Challenging Multiculturalism: European Models of Diversity

By Raymond Taras | Go to book overview

Chapter Thirteen
Multinationalism, Mononationalism or
Transnationalism in Russia?

Sergey Akopov


How multiculturalism and multinationalism have been
theorized in Russia

Some may claim that since multiculturalism has never been adopted as an official policy in Russia, the Russian case has no right to be presented in a cross-national book on multiculturalism. In this chapter I would like to show, however, that Russian historic experience of ethnic diversity management is unique and can be of great importance to a comparative analysis of multiculturalism. In addition, Russian society and Russian identity today are facing challenges similar to those found in other European – and Western – countries: economic and cultural globalization; massive migration; weakening of citizens’ exclusive attachment to one nation state; the danger of nationalism; and the rise of extremists. Russia may not have immigration-based multiculturalism if immigration is restricted to the movement of peoples between sovereign states. But it does have a growing multiculturalism based in internal migration across an extraordinarily diverse and expansive territory.

The echo of ‘the collapse of multiculturalism’ announced by a number of European politicians was distinctly heard in Russian media and public life throughout 2010 and 2011 and, particularly, during the 2012 presidential election campaign. In fact it was the critique of multiculturalism that became the starting point for Vladimir Putin’s article entitled ‘Russia: The National Question’ published in Nezavisimaya Gazeta (23 January 2012); it bore the subtitle ‘SelfDetermination of the Russian People: A Multiethnic Civilization Sealed with a Russian Core’. According to Putin:

[the] failure of the multicultural project is caused by the crisis of the
‘nation state’ – namely, the state that has historically been built exclu-
sively on the basis of ethnic identity. And it is a challenge to be faced not
only by Europe, but many other regions in the world’. (Putin 2012:1)

-279-

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