All the Russias' Blog

A space for news and opinion, sponsored by The Jordan Center

New and Enduring Forms of Feminist Activism in Contemporary Russia

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From the NGO-ized civil society environment that existed in the 1990s and early 2000s, a new pattern of informal activism has developed, often assisted by the use of social media platforms. We find that the major drivers of these changes have been the steady narrowing of democratic freedoms in Russia, the exodus of foreign donors from the country, and the emergence of new online communication technologies available to activists.

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Excerpt from Timothy K. Blauvelt’s “Clientelism and Nationality in an Early Soviet Fiefdom: The Trials of Nestor Lakoba,” Part II

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The relationship between the central Soviet leadership and the local national elites often resembled that of a grantor with a grantee: before the finalist selection has been made, the grantor has all the power and can make the applicants jump through hoops; once the choice has been made, however, and the grant awarded to one of the applicants, now the success of the grantor depends on the success of the grantee. This alters the power relationship, allowing the grantee to make demands on the grantor: a kind of “capture” results.

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Excerpt from Timothy K. Blauvelt’s “Clientelism and Nationality in an Early Soviet Fiefdom: The Trials of Nestor Lakoba,” Part I

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With a vast territory to control and a small number of trusted cadres in the periphery, in the new “national” republics of the emerging ethno-territorial system, the Bolshevik central leadership had to empower reliable client groups in each of the territories in order to implement policies and carry out their directives.

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Red Goes Green: A Contemporary Ecological Reading of a Soviet Classic

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“Pkhents,” written by Abram Tertz, the pen name of Andrei Sinyavsky, is the story of an incognito extraterrestrial stranded in the Soviet Union. He’s not one of the stereotypical little green men, but he is, in a sense, green: out of all life forms on earth, he identifies most with the plant kingdom. He is a kind of alien cactus masquerading as a hunchbacked book-keeper. 

Scholars and critics have pointed to the alien figure leading a dual life as an autobiographical gesture: Sinyavsky, an ethnic Russian, was a Soviet literary critic who assumed the explicitly Jewish pseudonym—Abram Tertz—to compose dissident works. Indeed, the bulk of Sinyavsky-Tertz’s oeuvre is populated with misfits, outcasts, and hybrid and contradictory identities through which the author exorcised his own sense of incongruity with the Soviet world. 

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From “Tsar Ducks” to Kashchei the Deathless: Anti-Corruption Symbols in Russia Today

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In January 2021, Russian anti-corruption activist Aleksei Navalny returned to Russia with his wife after years of personal and political attacks. Navalny’s subsequent arrest and detention provoked international protests, including responses that foregrounded symbols of his campaign and modern Russian dissidence. These visual symbols connect to a long history of protest in Russia, raising questions about the nature of dissidence itself.

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