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Russia on the EdgeImagined Geographies and Post-Soviet Identity$
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Edith W. Clowes

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801448560

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801448560.001.0001

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Demonizing the Post-Soviet Other

Demonizing the Post-Soviet Other

The Chechens and the Muslim South

(p.140) 6 Demonizing the Post-Soviet Other
Russia on the Edge

Edith W. Clowes

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the polarization of positions in the debate about identity and the central role that both the imagined Caucasus and the most intransigent of Caucasus ethnic groups, the Chechens, have played in sharpening the hostility between competing variants of post-Soviet Russian identity. It argues that the Russian government has used the issue of Chechnya to restrict free speech and to enhance the image of the state. Ultraconservatives see in the Chechen conflict a chance to strengthen some combination of ethnic and statist Russian identity, and those supporting a broad notion of Russian citizenship and universal civil rights have fought to keep abuses in the public eye. What emerges is a dialectical counterpoint of the discreditation of the old Soviet universalism of “friendship of peoples,” the assertion of something like a “blood and soil” nationalism, and the argument for a new universalism.

Keywords:   Caucasus ethnic groups, Chechens, Chechnya, Chechen conflict, Russian citizenship, universal civil rights, universalism, nationalism

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