Irresistible Temptation

Central Europe and Russia’s Trap of 'Civilisation'

29 June 2020

Aliaksei Kazharski

Visegrad Insight Fellow

Russian identity has always been caught up in the relationship with Europe. It seems that the idea of “a separate civilisation” also has become a kind of an intellectual trap for Russia.

When Vladimir Putin speaks of Russia as a “separate civilisation” and “not just another country”, he echoes the ideas of many Russian politicians and intellectuals before him. The doctrine of Russia as a civilisation that is distinct from the West is an old one, and it has even had sympathisers across Central Europe, too.

For the Russians themselves, however, it has been somewhat of an intellectual trap, which prevented them from successfully completing their post-communist transition in the direction of a liberal democratic country.

A historic mission

Vladimir Putin

Last month Putin suddenly decided to bring up the evergreen topic of Russian politics again by saying that Russia was “not just a country”, but “really a separate civilisation”. To anyone even casually observing this great country the idea behind the statement is anything but new.

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Aliaksei Kazharski

Visegrad Insight Fellow

Visegrad Insight Fellow. Researcher at the Institute of European Studies and International Relations of the Comenius University in Bratislava and a lecturer at the Department of Security Studies of Charles University in Prague

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