- In contemporary Russia, the question of identity is multifaceted and controversial. It is important to first distinguish between Russian national identity and national identities among the Russian Federation’s 175 ethnic minorities. Slightly less than one-quarter of Russia’s population is non-Russian. Among these 23 million, there are vibrant ethnic movements that include political projects, as well as attempts at linguistic, cultural, and religious revival. Groups such as the Tatars, Chechens, and Kalmyks have well-developed histories that allow their political leaders to employ historical identity as a tool against Russification. Smaller groups have been forced to navigate between their minority identity and identification as Russian citizens. As for the Russians, the four principal categories of Russianness are as follows: ethnically defined Russianness granted solely through familial bloodlines, that is, ethnic Russians (russkie); culturo-linguistically defined Russianness, primarily determined by membership in the community of Russian language speakers (russkoiazychnyie); civic Russians or Rossians (rossiane) constituted through citizenship and loyalty to the Russian Federation; and a form of Russian identity based on the Soviet Union’s seminal role in building a multiethnic “nationality” among those people living inside its former borders, that is, the post-Soviet person (homo post-Sovieticus). The struggle over which identity is dominant in post-Soviet Russia remains a highly politicized issue, particularly among ultranationalist political parties.See also Language.
Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. Robert A. Saunders and Vlad Strukov. 2010.
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