In recent years, the Russian government has promoted patriotism as a means to unify society and secure the legitimacy of Putin’s regime. This paper considers the effectiveness of this campaign by examining everyday understandings of patriotism among Russian citizens. Drawing on in-depth interviews and focus groups conducted in two regions in –2015, patriotism is lived and experienced among ordinary Russians as a personal, normative, and apolitical ideal that diverges significantly from official patriotic narratives. At the same time, Russians are convinced that the majority of fellow citizens are patriotic in the ways envisioned by the government. As a result, the government’s use of patriotism is more effective in raising barriers to collective action than cultivating legitimacy. At the same time, everyday forms of patriotism encourage citizens to sacrifice public choice and to tolerate authoritarian rule.