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Human And Ethnic Rights In Democratic Transition, Vol. 7 - 2000, No. 1

Human and Ethnic Minority Rights in an Emerging Political Culture in Russia

, pages: 41-54

The political culture appears to be instrumental for understanding regime changes and consolidation processes in post-socialist countries. In a situation of rapid disintegration of most traditional Soviet values and habits, the current Russian political culture cannot but disintegrate and become contradictory. That is why the search for reliable criteria for its evaluation proves to be the cornerstone for the analysis. The author argues that public attitudes toward human rights fully reflect a complicated combination of individualistic and collectivist, self-dependent and paternalistic principles. Human rights also represent a specific arena of ethnopolitical competition. The asymmetrical and multi-ethnic Russian federation is an arena of inefficient ethnic policy and sharp inter-ethnic conflicts. Within this context, attitudes towards the political status of diaspora and ethnic minorities help distinguish between civic and hegemonist patterns of political culture. In its empirical part, the paper presents data from fifteen public opinion polls recently conducted by Russian, Western, or joint teams. The results enable the author to detect some current shifts in attitudes, to trace some long-term tendencies and to draw several general conclusions. The young generation of Russian citizens has been chosen as the subject of a case study as one of the potentially most influential social groups that could predetermine the outcome of the current ideological and political struggles.

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