Redefining patriotism and belonging in illiberal Russia
Resilience and survival of othered groups
Keywords:Russia, civil society, patriotism, LGBT, rootedness
This study advances the argument that contemporary Russian illiberalism can be characterised through immense societal polarisation, generating a language of ‘othering’ and equating groups with critical political attitudes as ‘agents of the West’ or ‘foreigners.’ In the name of eradicating ‘amoral Western influence’ and shielding Russia from ‘foreign penetration and propaganda’ that spreads immoral values, political control over ‘foreign’ groups and organisations has intensified. In a similar vein, patriotism is increasingly equated with loyalty to the Russian state. In this article, based on the example of LGBT organisations I show how othered groups strive to (re-)define themselves as part of the Russian nation—as patriotic and socially useful members of society. Employing institutional, political and social strategies, groups such as pro-LGBT organisations try to resist being pushed outside of Russian society, and in the process prove their patriotism and rootedness.
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