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Russian Nationalists as Georgian Allies

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image of Iran and the Caucasus

The internet discussions focused on the Russo-Georgian War of 7-12 August 2008 provide the insight into the mood of Russian public, including those ethnic Russians, who espouse nationalistic view. Some of them support the idea of Russian imperialism and punishing Georgia as the proxy of the USA. Still, the majority demonstrated quite different approaches. They had no interest in imperial build up and see in empire liability, which prevents ethnic Russians to live well. Putin’s regime was regarded as the manifestation of the imperialism, and these explain—in their view—why the regime was hostile to ethnic Russians. To understand the image of the war, in the minds of many Russians, requires describing several specifics of the present regime, which are quite crucial from their perspective. First, although Putin came to power with a programme to end the abuses of the Yeltsin era, his regime was actually a continuity of Yeltsin’s rule. Its most important socioeconomic element— robber-baron privatisation—was preserved. A few of the most notorious “oligarchs” either pushed for exile or ended their careers in prison, but most of them continued to prosper. The corrupt and hedonistic aspects of the post-Soviet regime continued to be prominent, yet the basic pro-Western orientation of Putin’s foreign policy remained unchallenged. These features of Putin’s regime made it as alien and hostile to many ethnic Russians, especially provincial people, as the Yeltsin’s regime had been. Its anti-Western actions, and especially proclamations, were not taken seriously; indeed, they were understood as limited in scope and practically sham. The hostility to the regime by many disenfranchised ethnic Russians was also increased by its tolerance of ethnic minorities, especially Jews. Despite its slogans, the regime was reluctant to press the most brazen form of Russian nationalism, its emphasis on the racial/biological aspects of Russianness. However, it did not demonstrate just tolerance to Jews, but even a Judeophilism that had been unknown in Russia since the early Soviet era.


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