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Contemporary Russian Conservatism

Problems, Paradoxes, and Perspectives


Edited by Mikhail Suslov and Dmitry Uzlaner

This volume is the first comprehensive study of the “conservative turn” in Russia under Putin. Its fifteen chapters, written by renowned specialists in the field, provide a focused examination of what Russian conservatism is and how it works. The book features in-depth discussions of the historical dimensions of conservatism, the contemporary international context, the theoretical conceptualization of conservatism, and empirical case studies. Among various issues covered by the volume are the geopolitical and religious dimensions of conservatism and the conservative perspective on Russian history and the politics of memory. The authors show that conservative ideology condenses and reworks a number of discussions about Russia’s identity and its place in the world.

Contributors include: Katharina Bluhm, Per-Arne Bodin, Alicja Curanović, Ekaterina Grishaeva, Caroline Hill, Irina Karlsohn, Marlene Laruelle, Mikhail N. Lukianov, Kåre Johan Mjør, Alexander Pavlov, Susanna Rabow-Edling, Andrey Shishkov, Victor Shnirelman, Mikhail Suslov, and Dmitry Uzlaner


Markian Prokopovych, Carl Bethke and Tamara Scheer

The Habsburg Empire often features in scholarship as a historical example of how language diversity and linguistic competence were essential to the functioning of the imperial state. Focusing critically on the urban-rural divide, on the importance of status for multilingual competence, on local governments, schools, the army and the urban public sphere, and on linguistic policies and practices in transition, this collective volume provides further evidence for both the merits of how language diversity was managed in Austria-Hungary and the problems and contradictions that surrounded those practices. The book includes contributions by Pieter M. Judson, Marta Verginella, Rok Stergar, Anamarija Lukić, Carl Bethke, Irina Marin, Ágoston Berecz, Csilla Fedinec, István Csernicskó, Matthäus Wehowski, Jan Fellerer, and Jeroen van Drunen.


Edited by David Thomas and John A. Chesworth

Christian-Muslim Relations, a Bibliographical History Volume 13 (CMR 13) covering Western Europe in the period 1700-1800 is a further volume in a general history of relations between the two faiths from the 7th century to the early 20th century. It comprises a series of introductory essays and also the main body of detailed entries which treat all the works, surviving or lost, that have been recorded. These entries provide biographical details of the authors, descriptions and assessments of the works themselves, and complete accounts of manuscripts, editions, translations and studies. The result of collaboration between numerous leading scholars, CMR 13, along with the other volumes in this series, is intended as a basic tool for research in Christian-Muslim relations.

Section editors: Clinton Bennett, Luis F. Bernabé Pons, Jaco Beyers, Emanuele Colombo, Karoline Cook, Lejla Demiri, Martha Frederiks, David D. Grafton, Stanisław Grodź, Alan Guenther, Vincenzo Lavenia, Emma Gaze Loghin, Gordon Nickel, Claire Norton, Radu Păun, Reza Pourjavady, Douglas Pratt, Charles Ramsey, Peter Riddell, Umar Ryad, Mehdi Sajid, Cornelia Soldat, Karel Steenbrink, Ann Thomson, Carsten Walbiner.

Emily B. Baran and Zoe Knox

This introduction offers an overview of the 2002 Russian anti-extremism law and a summary of the contributions by individual authors to this special journal issue. The authors detail the significant impact of the law, particularly for religious minorities. They note that the authors approach the law from different angles, ranging from the evolving rhetoric of extremism in Russia and the law’s application to particular religious minority cases to the censorship of the online world and the politicized and partisan nature of the Russian legal system. In doing so, they draw out the contradictions, inconsistencies, and arbitrariness of the law's application and some unexpected continuities with earlier historical periods. Overall, they conclude that the anti-extremism law represents a serious impediment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in contemporary Russia.

Marat Shterin and Dmitry Dubrovsky

This article contributes to the growing body of research on the increasing role of judicial systems in regulating politics and religion (‘judicialization of politics and religion’) across the globe. By examining how academic expertise is deployed in anti-extremist litigation involving Russia’s minority religions, this article reveals important processes involved in this judicial regulation, in particular when legal and academic institutions lack autonomy and consistency of operation. It focuses on the selection of experts and the validation of their opinion within Russia’s academia and the judiciary, and identifies patterns in the experts’ approach to evidence and how they validate their conclusions in the eyes of the judiciary. Academic expertise provides an aura of legitimacy to judicial decisions in which anti-extremist legislation is used as a means to control unpopular minority religions and to regulate Russia’s religious diversity. As one of the few systematic explorations of this subject and the first focused on Russia, this article reveals important processes that produce religious discrimination and the role that anti-extremist legislation plays in these processes.

Ellie R. Schainker

In 2017, Russia’s Ministry of Justice banned a nineteenth-century book written by the German rabbi Markus Lehmann, labeling it extremist literature. This article places current Russian efforts to stamp out religious extremism in a broader historical context of imperial productions of tolerance and intolerance and the impact on religious minorities. It examines the case of Jews in the Russian Empire and post-Soviet Russia through the lens of religious conversion, forced baptisms, and freedom of conscience in the realm of apostasy. Lehmann’s book, characteristic of nineteenth-century Orthodox Jewish historical fiction in German, used the historical memory of forced conversions of Jews in medieval and early modern Europe to forge a new path to integration in tolerant, Protestant environs. This article offers a historical and literary reading of Lehmann’s banned book against the longer arc of imperial Russian toleration and conservative appropriations of toleration for discrimination against minorities.

Christopher J. Ward

Emily B. Baran

This article examines the history of marginalizing rhetoric in Russia as applied to evangelizing faiths, particularly the Jehovah’s Witnesses, from the postwar period to the present day. Such churches have been portrayed as presenting a distinct threat to Russian society, even as the cited reasons for this perceived danger have shifted over time. While obviously connected to legal definitions of toleration, the language of religious (in)tolerance existed apart from state policy. Moreover, public rhetoric frequently adopted a hostile tone toward evangelizing churches regardless of their legal status. Seen from this perspective, the recent “extremism” label is part of a broader history of sustained marginalization of evangelizing faiths in modern Russia. The article argues that Russian media has not fully embraced the rhetoric of “extremism” as applied to evangelizing communities, but has also done little to challenge the underlying state policy it represents.

Zoe Knox

This article examines the Russian Supreme Court’s 2017 decision to ban Jehovah’s Witnesses as “extremists.” The decision will bring Russia’s anti-extremism law before the Council of Europe via the European Court of Human Rights. The article considers why this particular religious minority group became a test case by examining the unique beliefs and practices of Witnesses and their history of episodic conflict with the state. It also highlights the role of the Orthodox Church in shaping attitudes, popular and political, toward religious pluralism in Russia. In the Putin era, an increasingly illiberal rhetoric about totalitarian cults and traditional values connected nontraditional faiths to national security threats, a link made clear in the Putin regime’s promotion of spiritual security. Overall, the article argues that the 2017 ban signals the repudiation of European human rights norms by Russian governmental authorities, lawmakers, and religious elites.

Maria Kravchenko

This article is focused on the enforcement of Russian anti-extremist legislation through web regulation. Russian law enforcement has shifted from a focus on preventing terrorist violence to a focus on prosecuting online hate speech and anti-authority rhetoric under current anti-extremist and anti-terrorist laws. The vague definition of extremist activity in federal law has been broadly interpreted by law enforcement agencies. Through the idea of public security, Russian law enforcement agencies have overestimated the threat of online content without regard for the context, audience, and impact of online statements. The result has been a steady increase in blocked access to web pages and sanctions on web users and providers. The article analyzes the legal norms pertaining to web content control, and details law enforcement practice and major trends. It also identifies the most common publications, people, and organizations targeted by Russian law enforcement for sanctions based on online statements.