Cultural Challenges to Democratization in Russia

Abstract

Three historical forces having shaped Russia—the Land, the Church, and the West. Fifteen years after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia remains the largest country on earth, with geopolitical interests in virtually every nation on the Eurasian continent and a fast-growing economy. The Russian Orthodox Church has resumed its place at the center of Russian culture, a culture that must be considered when assessing Russia’s prospects for democratization. Likewise, Russians’ understanding of the West and democracy often suffers from misapprehensions that must be overcome in order for it to be attractive to Russia to move toward its own form of democracy. For U.S.-Russian differences today are primarily cultural, not ideological.

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