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Article

Тема «лихих девяностых» в дискурсах российских коммунистов и национал-патриотов

The article analyzes how the events of the 1990s – the collapse of the USSR and the period of economic and political reforms – are represented in the contemporary discourses of political forces that opposed to Boris Yeltsin and the Democrats/the Liberals – the Communists, the National-Populists and the National-Patriots. The research aims 1) to reveal how these events are integrated to the historical narratives that construct identities of these political forces and substantiate their claims for electoral support, 2) to identify the ways of using the memory about recent past as a political argument. The materials for research was provided by publications of the leaders of KPRF, LDPR and public intellectuals who have a reputation of national-patriots in the central media outlets. The method of research was qualitative content analysis.

The research has revealed that all considered discourses share a negative assessment of the 1990s but use different ways of including this period to their historical narratives. For the Communists, the 1990s is a story about tragic consequences of the lost “golden age” – the Soviet period. For the National-Populists, it provides a background for constructing their identity as the only defenders of the Russian people, whose interests were neglected by the Soviet, as well as by post-Soviet elites. For the National-Patriots, it is a challenge that needs to be responded. The image of “the hard 1990s” plays an important role in shaping watersheds in Russian politics, as it facilitates constructing common enemies – “the Liberals”, “the oligarchs”, and “the West” – for political groups with rather different programs.

The research has also revealed interesting differences in the ways the memory about recent past is used as a political argument. In spite of the fact that the Communists, the National-Populists and the National-Patriots share negative interpretations of the 1990s, the do not support the idea of strict contrast between “the hard 1990s” and “the stable 2000s” that is typical for Vladimir Putin’s rhetoric.