Problems of Nation Building in Multi-ethnic Post-Soviet Societies: Ukrainian Case in Comparative Perspective

Problems of Nation Building in Multi-ethnic Post-Soviet Societies:
Ukrainian Case in Comparative Perspective

Lapkin V.V.,

Cand. Sci. (Chem.), Leading Researcher, Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences, First Deputy Editor‑in‑Chief, Polis. Political Studies. Moscow, Russia,

elibrary_id: 43429 | ORCID: 0000-0002-0775-2630 | RESEARCHER_ID: AAB-9386-2021

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2016.04.06

For citation:

Lapkin V.V. Problems of Nation Building in Multi-ethnic Post-Soviet Societies: Ukrainian Case in Comparative Perspective. – Polis. Political Studies. 2016. No. 4. P. 54-64. (In Russ.).


The article focuses on the problem of analysis of alternative nation-building strategies in the post- Soviet space. The collapse of the Soviet empire in 1991 has not led to the restoration of the Empire in a new guise; the result was a bifurcation of the paths of nation building. This is, on the one hand, the way of the former imperial metropole, and on the other hand – divergent political practices of the former Soviet republics, who have fallen away from the metropole. Particular attention is paid to the fact that almost all post-Soviet states (including Russia) were de facto formed on the basis of multi-ethnic communities existing at the time of the Soviet collapse. Formal inter-republic borders of a unified Union inherited by the post-Soviet states have become a factor which considerably complicates implementation of the tasks of nation-building. This legacy activates all sorts of separatist movements and stimulates the emergence of territorially detached internationally unrecognized political regimes and “frozen conflicts”. The former imperial metropolis went through the building of a new “vertical of power” and disciplining the elite in the institutional framework of a personalistic regime. At the same time, it has become a point of attraction for all the separatist political forces of post-Soviet space which were unsatisfied with the conditions of existence in the new “ethnic democracies”. The article analyzes the post-Soviet phenomenon of “special separatism” which rejects ethnic nationalism and xenophobia and sets the goal to merge with another state – Russia, rather than building an independent national state. The Ukrainian case (after its political turn in 2014) demonstrates an alternative scenario. The motivation for this turn is pragmatic, and resources of ethnic and national consolidation and politicization of ethnicity along with the instrumental imitation of ethnic conflict in Ukraine are used to promote political interests. This represents a potential threat for the future of Ukranian statehood. 

nation building; ethnopolitical processes; comparative analysis; post-Soviet states; empire; nation-state; separatism; Russia; Ukraine.

Content No. 4, 2016

See also:

Pantin V.I., Lapkin V.V.,
Ethnopolitical and Ethnosocial Processes in Post-Soviet Countries (Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine Cases). – Polis. Political Studies. 2015. No5

Podolianskaya A.O.,
Ethno-political transformation of Belarus and of Ukraine through migration trends. – Polis. Political Studies. 2010. No2

Vinogradov A.V., Ryabov A.V.,
Political Systems of Post-Soviet States and China in the Process of Inter-System Transformation. – Polis. Political Studies. 2019. No3

Dragunsky D.V.,
Ethno-Political Processes in the Post-Soviet Area and the Reconstruction of Northern Eurasia. – Polis. Political Studies. 1995. No3

Torosyan T.S., Vardanyan A.V.,
Conceptualising a Methodology for a Comparative Analysis of the Success of Secessions. – Polis. Political Studies. 2021. No1



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