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Photo:Vladimir Putin with military people (2018-05-31) 08“, by licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 Hue modified from the original.

Grek, Ivan. “The grassroots of Putin’s ideology: civil origins of an uncivil regime.” East European Politics (2023): 1-20.


This article attempts to explore three illiberal discursive practices (metaphysical state, right post-colonialism, and Orthodox pan-Slavism) that structure Putin’s ideological course and help to understand why justifications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sound logical in Russian discourse. It argues that throughout the 1990s illiberal grassroots organizations popularized these discursive practices of the Soviet right-wing intelligentsia, engaged large masses in their projects, recruited members of Putin’s elites as followers, and were partially absorbed by the administration. My interviews with the representatives of the illiberal civic movement and Putin’s administration indicate that grassroots organizations successfully delivered their ideological modus operandi to the post-Yeltsin ruling class. Hence, an acute resemblance of the illiberal grassroots movement’s discursive practices with those of the Kremlin is hardly likely to be accidental. Putin and his allies engaged with this preexisting illiberal civil society and ultimately drew on its ideas and tapped into its networks for support.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.