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Laruelle, Marlene. “Russia’s Niche Soft Power: Sources, Targets and Channels of Influence.” Russie.Nei.Visions 122 (2021).


This paper argues that Russia’s soft power should be understood as a niche soft power, microtargeting some specific audiences based on four particularisms:

  • Russia’s history and culture;
  • its Soviet legacy;
  • its conservative and illiberal political identity today;
  • its status as a joker on the international scene.

This strategy emerged as the product of Russia’s awareness of its limited outreach capacity compared to the US soft power, both financially and in terms of cultural and brand production to export worldwide. Russia’s case allows us to study the scope for a nonuniversalistic soft power on the international scene, and Moscow’s successes and failures at promoting conservative values as well as rebellion against the so-called liberal world order.

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.