National Identity and the Future of Russia
Novgorod Oblast

The Valdai International Discussion Club will host a presentation of a new paper, “National Identity and Russia’s Future,” based on the results of the club’s 10th anniversary conference in September 2013.

The paper, written by the young scholars Anastasia Likhacheva and Igor Makarov of the National Research University – Higher School of Economics, attempts to answer the most fundamental of questions: Who are the Russians, and what does their future hold? Likhacheva, a researcher at the university’s Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies, and Makarov, a lecturer at the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, lay out their views on Russia’s national identity in a way that transcends the traditional academic framework and leaves room for a free and wide-ranging discussion.

“What makes this paper unique is that the young authors were helped by some of the most influential and experienced scholars and thinkers of Russia, who discussed their early drafts,” said Sergei Karaganov, Honorary Chairman of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy, who supervised the report. “The authors incorporated their ideas and comments, which were occasionally quite critical. But their task was to offer their own views on Russian identity, albeit enriched with insight from their more senior colleagues.”

The report provides answers to such topical questions as “Who are the bearers of Russian identity?” and “What can unite all the ethnic groups and faiths inhabiting Russia?” By differentiating between the notions of “national character,” “national idea” and “national ideology,” the young researchers were able to isolate the main elements of Russian identity. They propose strategies to strengthen this identity and outline major projects for the country’s future. They also consider Russian national identity in an international context, including how it is perceived around the world and the outside factors that shape it.

As a way to foster discussion, the report concludes with the section “Pantheon of Heroes,” which names outstanding national figures for Russians to promote and take pride in, as well as a list of Russia’s natural wonders, which should be designated as National Monuments.

The report was compiled with the help of Pavel Andreev, Executive Director, Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai International Discussion Club; Alexander Gabuev, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Kommersant-Vlast; and Ekaterina Makarova, lecturer at the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, Higher School of Economics.