Nation-building, nationalism and the new ‘other’ in today’s Russia (NEORUSS)

2012 - 2016 (Completed) Project number: 220599/H30
Research Project
This project investigates the developments of nation-building, nationalism and notions of the 'other' in today's Russia.

The nation-building program designed by Yeltsin for post-Soviet Russia is under strain. Central to this program is the concept of the ‘Rossiiskii’ nation, signaling a non-ethnic nation model with significant cultural and political rights to non-Russians, but held together with a high degree of common values and traditions. Today, the loss of the large, multiethnic Soviet state is accepted by an increasing number of Russians, but in the process also the civic understanding of the nation is being jettisoned, and Russian nationalism, for the first time in it history, seems to be turning towards a focus on ethnicity: ‘Russian’ is increasingly being understood as ‘ethnic Russian’ (‘Russkii’).

Ethnocentric and xenophobic sentiments were prominent in the anti-Putinist rallies that attracted large crowds in winter 2011/2012. Especially notable were slogans against culturally alien migrant laborers from Central Asia and North Caucasus – the ‘new Other’.

This project examines the nationality question in Russian discourse and aims to determine to what extent the Russian national identity is shifting from an imperial (and implicitly multiethnic) understanding of the nation, towards an ethnic and exclusive one. We will also look at the potential consequences this shift might have for Russian politics.

Key issues
In order to document and analyze the new preconditions for nation-building in Russia, four key issues will be taken up for separate scrutiny;

  • Changes in political signals as well as the state’s actual policies
  • The nationality issue in the opposition and political fringe groups
  • Role of the media
  • Changes in the public mood

For more details, see the University of Oslo's project web page.


Research Council of Norway

Funding program



Russia and Eurasia

Helge Blakkisrud

Senior Research Fellow (part time)



Pål Kolstø, UiO (Project Manager)

Mikhail Alexseev, San Diego State University

Henry Hale, George Washington University

Natalia Kosmarskaya, Russian Academy of Sciences

Marlene Laruelle, George Washington University

Anastasia Mitrofanova, Russian Orthodox University

Emil Pain, National Research University - Higher School of Economics

Peter Rutland, Wesleyan Univeristy

Vera Tolz, University of Manchester

Andreas Umland, Kiev Mohyla University

Alexander Verkhovsky, SOVA Centre