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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

McGlynn, Jade. “United by History: Government Appropriation of Everyday Nationalism During Vladimir Putin’s Third Term.” Nationalities Papers 48, no. 6 (2020): 1069-1085.


During Vladimir Putin’s third presidential term, the Russian government and media’s rhetorical embrace of illiberalism, patriotism, and chauvinism was accompanied and partly facilitated by the invocation of historical precedent and “correct” historical understanding. Politicians stressed the importance of a shared historical memory to Russian national identity, rendering the interpretation of history a question of patriotism. The government and state-supportive media then used “patriotic” historical memories to legitimize government policies. Through framing analysis of three significant episodes—namely, the Ukraine Crisis, imposition of sanctions, and Russian intervention in Syria—I outline how the government and state-supportive media conflated these events with supposed historical precedents. This conflation made “patriotic” (or government-approved) history an everyday topic of discussion, but it also confused supporting government policy with celebrating historical triumph (or condemning historical tragedy). In this way, the government co-opted the emotional power of the history they invoked for the purposes of legitimizing their policies. This was compounded by the government and state-supportive media using and citing images and descriptions of ordinary people performing their patriotism in a manner that simultaneously demonstrated awareness of Russian history and support for the government.

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.