In recent years, governments and citizens everywhere from Eastern Europe to North America and Africa have torn down historical monuments in pursuit of historical justice. Russia experienced such paroxysms of iconoclasm three times in the 20th century, but following the collapse of the Soviet Union embarked on a wave of monument building. In my project I explore the dynamics and causes of this monument fever, and what it tells us about post-Soviet nation-building in Russia. My second goal is to compare the situation in Russia with that in other countries.
The ideology of Putin’s regime can be described both by what it articulates or implies, and by what it avoids or omits. For example, it proclaims Russia’s greatness and emphasizes the perception of the West as a hostile force. Russia’s “special path” is its major tenet, but the nature of this “special path” is left vague. The Kremlin’s ideology draws on “traditional values”, but Russia’s new conservatism remains ill-defined. The infallibility of the state and its supreme leader is implied, but not articulated. The new ideology vacillates between the vestiges of Soviet imperial identity and emerging Russian nationalism. The Kremlin’s discourse is fuzzy on the origins of current Russian statehood or Russia’s national heroes. Neither does it offer a vision of Russia’s future.