The New Russian Nationalism. Imperalism, ethnicity and authoritarianism 2000-15
There are many puzzles facing the analyst trying to understand the trajectory of Russian politics. Why did democracy fail in the 1990s? How was a small, corrupt elite able to seize control of the commanding heights of the economy, becoming fabulously wealthy in the process? Among the puzzles is also the failure of Russian nationalists to capitalise on the public’s deep dissatisfac- tion with the performance of the Russian economy in the 1990s. Then, after the accession to power of Vladimir Putin in 2000, the new, patriotic leader confounded the nationalists by sticking with many of the policies of the liberal market reformers: eschewing protectionism and trying to maintain and deepen Russia’s integra- tion into the global economy.
Putin concluded that Russia’s viability as a great power required him to accelerate economic modernisation and deepen global integration. Other leaders of developing countries, such as the populist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Brazil and the nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India, came to a similar conclusion, and tried to adopt select elements of the neoliberal policy package without alienating their domestic con- stituencies. These international comparisons are an important reminder that Russia’s dilemma of embracing the global economy while preserving national identity is not unique.