Regionalist projects in non-ethnic regions of Russia: actors, legitimation, outcomes

Regionalist projects in non-ethnic regions of Russia: actors, legitimation, outcomes

Kiryanov I.K.,

Perm State National Research University, Perm, Russia,

elibrary_id: 250677 | ORCID: 0000-0002-2866-877X | RESEARCHER_ID: AAH-5458-2020

Panov P.V.,

Perm Federal Research Center, Ural Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, Perm, Russia,

elibrary_id: 77223 | ORCID: 0000-0002-0759-7618 | RESEARCHER_ID: O-2160-2016

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2022.01.07
Rubric: Russia Today

For citation:

Kiryanov I.K., Panov P.V. Regionalist projects in non-ethnic regions of Russia: actors, legitimation, outcomes. – Polis. Political Studies. 2022. No. 1. P. 67-85. (In Russ.).

The first and the third parts of the article were prepared with financial support provided by the Russian Science Foundation. Research grant №19-18-00053 “Subnational Regionalism and Dynamics of Multi-Level Politics (Russian and European Practices)”. The research was conducted at the Perm Federal Research Center, Ural Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences. The second part of the article was prepared in the framework of the research theme “Sociocultural and political dynamics of Russian society in the XIX – early XXI centuries” (Department of Interdisciplinary Historical Studies, Perm State National Research University).


Regionalist movements in post-Soviet Russia have been well studied in relation to ethnic republics, but in the “situation of uncertainty” of the early 1990s, regionalist projects have become widespread in non-ethnic regions as well. It was a clearly expressed as “reactive regionalism”. Fearing that in the context of increasing powers of the republics, “Russian” oblasts and krajs would turn out to be “second-rate” regions, regional elites put forward projects aimed at raising their status to the level of republics. Despite the fact that since the second half of the 1990s, regionalism had declined, in some regions, regionalist projects endured. The purpose of the article is to determine how non-ethnic regionalist projects are legitimized and reproduced. Theoretically, their effectiveness is explained by the actor constellation and the extent to which the actors manage to fill them with legitimate meanings. The most favorable constellation is when all three groups of actors are involved in promoting the project: regional authorities (“top-down regionalism”), activists (“bottom-up regionalism”), and intellectuals. Therefore, for an in-depth study, those regionalist projects, where a favorable actor constellation formed after the middle of 1990s, have been selected: The Baltic republic in the Kaliningrad oblast’, The Ural republic in the Sverdlovsk oblast’, and the Pomor republic in the Arkhangelsk oblast’. As the constellation changed over time, a comparative analysis of these projects in dynamics makes it possible to answer the research question. Our findings reveal that a favorable actor constellation is not a decisive factor for a project to gain public support. More important is the effective legitimation of the project. In the Arkhangelsk oblast’, where actor constellation was the most favorable, the “ethnicization” of the regionalist idea did not meet wide public support, while the population of the Kaliningrad oblast’, on the contrary, continued to have a positive attitude to the regionalist idea even in the 2000s, when the authorities had stopped promoting it.  

regionalism, regionalist project, actor constellation, legitimation, support, comparative analysis.


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Content No. 1, 2022

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