Russia’s ideology is ‘traditional great powerness cleansed of communism,’ Pavlova says

Russian state crest in front of full moon (Image:


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Irina Pavlova, Russian historian

Irina Pavlova

Both supporters and critics of the Putin regime often say his regime lacks an ideology – Aleksandr Podrabinek is only the latest – but in fact, Irina Pavlova says, it does: “traditional Russian great powerness (velikoderzhaviye), cleansed of communism and dressed up in Orthodox clothing.”

Not only should this be obvious to even a casual observer as such events as the just-concluded celebrations of Victory Day, the US-based Russian historian argues that the chord that this ideology has struck with the Russian people, one much deeper than communism ever did, explains support for Putin and Putinism.

The majority of the Russian population accepts the idea that Russia must be a great power regardless of the price because it is surrounded by enemies, Pavlova says. Indeed, one can say that “if you ‘scratch’ a Russian, you will find a great power chauvinist.” Russians are ready to “talk for hours” about the greatness of Russia and its power.

This is “a fait accompli” and it won’t be significantly changed if it is adopted as a formal ideological platform, the historian continues. Attachment to the core ideas of greatpowerness “unites the powers, the elite, the people of Russia and also a significant part of progressive society” elsewhere.

This idea has its roots in the 16th century idea of Moscow as “the third Rome.” Over time, “this idea was transformed into an ideology” and now has taken the form of what may be called “Russian fundamentalism,” whose followers accept without question four key notions without asking that they be proven:

  • First, Russians believe that “the Russian people is the bearer of a special morality and a special feeling of justice.”
  • Second, they reject “the spiritless West as a model of societal development.
  • Third, they have a “vision of the future of Russia as an empire.”
  • And fourth, they are “certain of its special and unique historical mission.”

That is an ideology, Pavlova says, whatever those who deny its existence suggest.



Edited by: A. N.

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