Russian Political Ideology

in: Russia: Strategy, Policy and Administration. L., Palgrave Macmillan, 2018. P. 31-41.

11 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2018

See all articles by Andrei Melville

Andrei Melville

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Date Written: February 1, 2018


Nearly a decade ago, I participated in a research project on possible Russian futures in the year 2020. One of the scenarios on the table was that of a dystopic future—a so-called Fortress Russia. That scenario involved Russian finding itself in a hostile environment, surrounded by regional conflicts. Oil revenues had dropped, and the country and population were beset by economic crises. In order to respond to the external threats posited by this scenario, Russia had to mobilise—even if such national mobilization limited political rights and freedoms. My colleagues and I conducted focus groups on this “nightmare scenario” in cities across the country, from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok. Nearly all respondents judged this scenario to be extremely undesirable and also highly improbable.

Today, of course, there are clear signs that the “Fortress Russia” scenario actually approximates Russia’s emerging reality. A near consensus has been built around it among elite groups and the masses. And it receives strong propagandistic justification through the prism of an ideology that Russians call the “new conservatism”.

What happened? Answer: after two and a half decades of unsuccessful searches for a post-Soviet “national idea”, “new conservatism” was successfully summoned to fill the gap in the public consciousness, becoming Russia’s ideological credo—as if a “symphony” between the state and the population.

What is the content of this new ideological consensus in Russia? What are the real functions fulfilled by new conservatism, and what is the social basis for the ideology? What policy and practical recommendations does it make? And, perhaps most importantly, what are its prospects, and are there alternative future ideological vectors for Russia?

Keywords: political ideology

Suggested Citation

Melville, Andrei, Russian Political Ideology (February 1, 2018). in: Russia: Strategy, Policy and Administration. L., Palgrave Macmillan, 2018. P. 31-41., Available at SSRN:

Andrei Melville (Contact Author)

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

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Moscow, Moscow 119017

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