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East European Perspectives: July 23, 2003

23 July 2003, Volume 5, Number 15


By Taras Kuzio

Serbian Diaspora And Russian Minorities

Most Western scholars have used the term "diaspora" to describe Russians living outside the Russian Federation (Melvin, 1998, Chinn and Kaiser, 1996). As Kolsto (2000, p. 83) argues, however, talk of a single Russian diaspora is "highly misleading." Khazanov (1995, p. 239) describes Russian minorities as at the "Ottoman stage of national identity," where identity is state- or empire-, rather than ethnically, based.

There is no evidence that Russian minorities, as Zevelev (1996) claims, see the Russian Federation as their external homeland (Simonsen, 1996). Their homeland was, and in some cases continues to be, the USSR (Poppe and Hagendoorn, 2001).

In addition, fears voiced by Brubaker (1994, pp. 70-72 and Wilson, 1997) that the interplay between Russian minorities, "nationalizing" non-Russian successor states, and the Russian state would be the catalyst for interethnic conflict have not materialized (Kuzio, 2001). Let us emphasize again that with the exception of Moldova, no ethnic conflict involving Russian minorities has taken place in the former USSR.

The lack of a pan-Russian diaspora identity is replicated by the lack of a pan-Russophone identity. It is therefore surprising that some Western scholars have accepted both of these categories (Russian diaspora and Russophone identity). As Barrington (2001) concludes in a study of Russophones in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, Russian-speaking identity is far weaker than ethnic- or civic-based (i.e., citizenship) identities. This weakness of a Russophone identity is an additional factor explaining why Russian mobilization has been weak. As russified locals, Russophones tend to support parties backing a civic and territorial approach, such as the local communist parties (Beissinger, 2002). Russian ethnic nationalist parties have failed to make inroads into Russophone communities in the non-Russian successor states of the USSR.

Advocacy of secessionism and of joining the Russian Federation in regions such as Northeast Estonia, Eastern Ukraine, and Northern Kazakhstan has been consequently remarkably negligible as well. If Russian minorities were to perceive the Russian Federation as their genuine "homeland," pro-Russian secessionism would have been more widespread. In contrast, Serbian minorities in Croatia and Bosnia did see the Former Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) and Serbia as their homeland and acted accordingly.

The borders of the Russian Federation remain problematical for Russians because Russian identity was so closely bound up with Soviet identity, and the Russian Federation was the "imperial residue" of the USSR. As Yugoslavia disintegrated and became the FRY in 1991-92, the issue of borders also became a central issue in Serbia. If the FRY was to incorporate all Serbs in a "Greater Serbia," the state would have to include areas taken from Croatia and Bosnia.

In the former USSR, this was more confusing -- a factor amplified by the existence of the CIS, which continued to blur the boundaries between the Soviet successor states. The Russian Federation was only too happy to continue to maintain fictitious "internal CIS" borders along the same lines as the former administrative boundaries dividing Soviet republics. Delimitation was acceptable to Russians, but demarcation was ruled out.

Both Serbia and the Russian Federation faced a similar problem in deciding where their borders should be drawn -- that of historic memory. In both cases, it was felt that the boundaries should incorporate important and painful areas of perceived past communitarian suffering. For the Serbs, "Serbia" was where there were Serbian Orthodox Churches and graves (Anzulovic, 1999, p. 79). The Serbian Orthodox Church and nationalist groups had long clamored for the site of the Croatian World War II-era Jasenovac concentration camp to become the second sacred shrine for Serbs after Kosovo. But the camp was depicted in Yugoslavia as a shrine for Yugoslav peoples, rather than one dedicated exclusively to Serb suffering in World War II.

In the Russian case, the two most visible historic "places of memory" lying outside the Russian Federation are Sevastopol, the "city of glory" (Plokhy, 2000), and the city of Kyiv (Kuzio, 2003c). The Sevastopol and Crimean issues held up Russia's recognition of Ukraine's borders until a treaty was signed in May 1997, and further delayed until 1998-99, before the Russian parliament agreed to ratify it. The concession came only after Ukraine signed a 20-year lease (1997-2017) allowing Russia's Black Sea Fleet to use the bays in Sevastopol. Kyiv has long been depicted as the "mother" of "Russian" cities. If it is now the capital city of independent Ukraine and 600 years older than Moscow, should Ukrainians not be viewed as being the "elder brothers" of eastern Slavs, rather than Russians (see Kuzio, 2003b, 2003c)?

Serbian minorities outside the Serbian heartland were a central factor in Serbian politics throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Although Russia also threatened to intervene on behalf the Russian minorities in the "near abroad," such an intervention never materialized, with the exception of the 14th Army in Moldova in defense of pro-Soviet separatists in the Transdniester. Since they have a weak sense of (ethnic) group identity (unlike Serbs), the Russians did not engage in collective action. Smith (1999) describes them as a "failed imperial diaspora" because they looked to the USSR, not the Russian SFSR, as their "homeland." Cohen (1996, p. 139) also describes Russian minorities as "imperial agents" left behind after the imperial state had disintegrated. They resemble Turks living outside Turkey in Greek Thrace, the Anglo-Irish in Eire, and the French settlers in Algeria.

More common were calls by Russia's Foreign Ministry and security forces for the defense of "compatriots" (Russophones), not ethnic Russians per se. In the Baltic states, Ukraine, and elsewhere, Russia intervened diplomatically and spoke out on behalf of Russophones. This irritated the non-Russian states of the former USSR, which argued that Russia had no right to intervene on behalf of Russians. By widening this intervention to Russophones, however, Russia was claiming to speak on behalf of the majority of Belarusians, half of Latvians and Kazakhs, and one-third of Estonians and Ukrainians.

The relationship between Serbia and the Serbian minorities beyond its borders was complex. There was a "fundamental and enduring core belief, that the two groups constituted one national community" (Thomas, 1999, p. 205). This feeling was augmented by the movement of Serbian refugees to Serbia during the conflicts that rocked Yugoslavia, who would back Slobodan Milosevic's Socialists in after-elections. Similarly intense feelings of a common Russian diaspora stretching from Estonia to Tajikistan were lacking in the former USSR.

At the same time, there were strong differences in character, language, and culture between the Serbian diaspora and Serbs living in Serbia. This sentiment was also found in the former USSR, where there was resentment at the influx of "different" Russians from the CIS into the Russian Federation. As most of the Russian returnees were from Central Asia and the Trans-Caucasus -- not from Ukraine, Belarus, or the Baltic states -- there was a large social distance between Russians living in the Russian Federation and those who had lived for decades or centuries among Muslim or Caucasian peoples. Russians living in Estonia have closer basic values to Estonians than to Russians living in the Russian Federation proper (Laitin, 1996).

The boundaries of the Russian diaspora remain fluid, a factor that increased after the USSR disintegrated (Melvin, 1998, p. 29). Because "Russian" was tantamount to "Soviet," Soviet citizens, especially from mixed marriages, often chose to identify themselves as "Russians" for career purposes. Leonid Kuchma declared himself to be a Russian when he was elected to the Ukrainian parliament in March 1990. Two years later, as prime minister, he had become a Ukrainian. A similar switch from Serbian to Croatian was unlikely to take place. Ukraine's first defense minister, Konstantin Morozov, is another case in point. In the Soviet military, the top positions were exclusively reserved for Russians (as they were for Serbs in the Yugoslav Army). If one's parents were mixed and only one was Russian, children usually became "Russian." In the late Soviet era, when Morozov supported the Ukrainian Popular Movement (Rukh), he researched his family background and found it to be Ukrainian. As he would eventually put it: "I personally know Ukrainian families in the Donbas who officially registered as Russian because they did not want to be considered second-class citizens or associated with a politically disenfranchised ethnic group" (Morozov, 2000, p. 5).

The fluidity of "Russian" identity can be seen in post-Soviet censuses. In both Ukraine and, more surprisingly, Belarus, the number of Russians has declined since the 1989 Soviet census. The 2001 Ukrainian census registered a 5 percent decline in the number of Russians (a drop of 3 million in absolute numbers) and a similar increase in Ukrainians from 72 to 77 percent, compared with the 1989 Soviet census (Kuzio, 2003a). The number of Russians registered in the 1999 Belarus census has also declined in comparison with the Soviet 1989 census. This trend of Russian re-identification is likely to continue (Kolsto, 1996, p. 620).

The fluidity of Russian identity and re-identification in the post-Soviet era is, paradoxically enough, also a product of assimilationist (russification) pressures in the former USSR, whereas in postwar Yugoslavia such pressures were not as evident. From the mid-1930s, the Soviet nationality policy sought to create a "homo sovieticus" from the diverse Soviet peoples, with its core based on the three eastern Slavic peoples speaking Russian. A large proportion of the gain in the Russian population in the 20th century came from assimilated non-Russians. In the 1926 Soviet census, 3.1 million Ukrainians lived in the Kuban region of the North Caucasus. By the 1959 census, this number had declined to only 170,000. The same was true of the 1.63 million Ukrainians in the Voronezh-Kursk "oblasts" bordering Ukraine, whose number had declined to 260,000 during the same period. In the Kuban region, residents -- although now defined as "Russians" -- see themselves as "Rus'ky" or "khokhly" (a derogatory term for Ukrainians) and continue to speak a local Ukrainian dialect.

In Yugoslavia, there was no attempt to create a Yugoslav nation. Yet the 1981 census produced 5.4 percent (1.2 million) "Yugoslavs" (Pavlowitch, 2002, p. 179), whose number grew to 4.5 million a decade later (Perica, 2002, p. 103). Unlike the Soviet census, which only permitted ethnic entries, Yugoslav population counts allowed a "Yugoslav" category to be recorded. The Yugoslav category was aimed at those with mixed marriages and the ethnically mixed republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, but was no reflection of a policy aimed at forging a new Yugoslav nation. Until the 1980s, the officially defined main enemies in Yugoslavia were Serbian nationalism, hegemony, and revanchism (Perica, 2002, pp. 43, 103). Yugoslav nationality policies consisted of "brotherhood and unity," a Tito cult, the myth of the common antifascist struggle in World War II, victory over Soviet hegemony, nonalignment, a third-way Yugoslav model, and the state and League of Communists as the only factors preventing ethnic carnage. These elements of the Yugoslav "civil religion" were important in developing the Yugoslav cult of "brotherhood and unity" (Perica, 2002, p. 103), at least while Tito was alive, until 1980.

Serb And Russian Enclaves
In 1990, the Serbs who inhabited the Krajina region of Croatia staged an uprising (Perica, 2002, p. 153). A similar uprising took place among the Russian-speaking Slavs who dominated the Transdniester region of eastern Moldova. In both Krajina and the Transdniester, the military backers belonged to the remnants of the Yugoslav (JNA) and Soviet armed forces left behind or deliberately left in place. Ratko Mladic, the commander of the Bosnian Serb army, came from the JNA and the Yugoslav Partisan tradition. The Bosnian Serb armed forces (VRS) were created by former JNA personnel, and therefore their ethos, like that of Mladic, was hostile to the anticommunist Cetnik tradition favored by some loyal (SRS) and opposition (SPO) Serbian nationalists. The Partisan and JNA traditions of the VRS clashed with the growing Cetnik myths and traditions favored by Bosnian Serb leaders after they were dumped by Milosevic in 1993-94.

The peace plans proposed in Yugoslavia after 1994 were supported by only two parties, Vuk Draskovic's SPO and Milosevic's Socialists. The Radicals (SRS) and democratic opposition parties (DSS, DS) opposed the plans. Assassinated Serb Premier Zoran Djindjic, then head of the DS, and former Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, then head of the DSS, called for all Serbs to be included within the FRY. The Serbian Orthodox Church backed up these calls and denounced the peace plans. For most political parties, it was perfectly natural to support a policy whereby all Serbs would live in one state (Thomas, 1999, p. 429).

Nevertheless, Serbian nationalism subsided by the mid 1990s. The Kosovo (Kosova) conflict from 1997-98 failed to arouse the nationalist passions found a decade earlier on the 600th anniversary of the Kosovo battle that led to the subjugation of Serbia by the Ottoman Empire. The Serbian nationalist countermobilization against Kosovar Albanian nationalism was less enthusiastic and passionate (Thomas, 1999, p. 409) than that in the early 1990s.

In regions of the former USSR other than Moldova, the Russian minorities failed to mobilize. Yet post-Soviet constitutions all re-defined Russians as a "national minority," a trend to which Russian minorities were hostile. In Ukraine, the absence of Russian mobilization is striking, considering the pessimistic predictions made by Western governments, intelligence agencies, and media in the first half of the 1990s. A combined U.S. National Intelligence Council report leaked to the media in January 1994 predicted Ukraine's disintegration and civil war along Yugoslav lines (Kuzio, 1994).

In 1991, the Crimea, the only region in Ukraine with a Russian majority, was upgraded to an autonomous republic from its "oblast" status -- one that had existed since 1945, when Tatars had been ethnically cleansed the year before. In 1992, the Crimean Supreme Soviet declared "independence" from Ukraine. Although this created a crisis in relations between the Crimea and Ukraine, Kyiv did not follow Moldova's or Georgia's example and send troops to subdue the separatists. This was to Kyiv's credit, as the military suppression of the Transdniester and Abkhazia failed.

The 1992 declaration of Crimean independence was less secessionist in character than first met the eye; rather than secessionism, it was more of an attempt to obtain more local powers from Kyiv. The former local communist nomenklatura united in centrist "parties of power" did not support the Crimea's secession. Neither did the largest party in the Crimea, the Crimean branch of the Communist Party of Ukraine (KPU), which has always seen the Crimea as part of a Ukraine.

Russian nationalists who did back Crimean independence took power from centrists in 1994 but were marginalized by the following year. Their internal squabbles, incompetence in dealing with Crimea's acute socioeconomic problems, lack of support from the KPU and centrists and by an external power (Russia) were all factors that led to their demise.

The adoption of the Ukrainian and Crimean constitutions in 1996 and 1998, respectively, has resolved the "Crimean question." The Ukrainian Constitution forbids regional political parties, and Crimean parties had to register as all-Ukrainian ones or become local branches of other Ukrainian parties. The successor to Meshkov's Russian Bloc, the Soiuz (Union) party, failed miserably in the 1998 Ukrainian parliamentary elections, garnering only 0.7 percent. Two pro-Russian parties also did badly in the 2002 elections, polling a combined total of only 1.12 percent; and in the Crimea, the Russia Bloc placed fifth, two places lower than Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine.

The Serbian Orthodox Church has always regarded itself as the defender of the Serbian nation and has traditionally defined itself as the kernel of Serbian identity. In interwar Yugoslavia, the Serbian Orthodox Church had close ties to the Serbian fascist Zbor movement. In the 1990s, the Serbian Orthodox Church supported attempts to bring all Serbs within one state, ignored Serb violence against non-Serbs, and backed nationalist parties.

The Russian Orthodox Church is a very different church, as it has never defined itself in exclusively ethnic Russian terms. The Russian Orthodox Church was the state church in the tsarist empire, its jurisdiction covering all three eastern Slavic peoples and other Orthodox peoples.

Where the Serbian and Russian Orthodox churches have similar views is on their neighbors -- Macedonians or Ukrainians and Belarusians, respectively. The Serbian Orthodox Church sees Macedonians as "South Serbs," while Ukrainians and Belarusians are "Little" and "White Russians" to the Russian Orthodox Church. The Serbian Orthodox Church still refuses to accept the autocephaly of the Macedonian Orthodox Church, created in 1967 with the support of the communist authorities. After the disintegration of the USSR, the Russian Orthodox Church continued to view the entire former USSR as its canonical territory and refused to grant autocephaly to any Orthodox church. In Ukraine and Estonia the conflict over autocephaly was particularly vicious, but only in the latter did the state successfully intervene in support of Estonian Orthodox autocephaly. In Ukraine, the Ukrainian (i.e., Russian) Orthodox Church remains the dominant Orthodox church and has the backing of the KPU and some oligarchic centrist parties. It is opposed by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchate, which tends to be supported by national democrats.

In Russia and Belarus, the Russian Orthodox Church is the state church. This is a position that the ROC, like most Orthodox churches, favors. In Belarus, the regime of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka sees "Russian Orthodoxy" as an important element of a new eastern Slavic- Soviet revivalist ideology that can underpin the Belarusian state as it strives for union with Russia.

In Moldova, the Moldovan (i.e., Russian) Orthodox Church is in conflict with the newly registered Bessarabian Metropolitan Church, which perceives itself as a regional branch of the Romanian Orthodox Church. The Moldovan Orthodox Church is the republican exarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church. The clash in Moldova is therefore between Romanian nationalists who back the Bessarabian Metropolitan Church and the communists who, like communists in Ukraine and Belarus, support the Moldovan Orthodox Church.

The Russian Orthodox Church continues to look to the entire former USSR as its canonical territory, rather than define itself as an exclusive ethnic Russian Orthodox Church. This reluctance by the Russian Orthodox Church to define itself as a purely Russian church reflects the diffusion between Russian and tsarist-Soviet imperial identities referred to earlier. The Russian Orthodox Church is closely linked to Russian nationalist groups, which favor the restoration of autocracy, the Russian empire, and restrictions on other confessions. It is anti-Semitic and believes in a worldwide Judeo-Masonic conspiracy. The Russian Orthodox Church is strongly supportive of its status as a state church and is inherently hostile to the West and Western values and influence (Verkhovsky, 2002).

This "Russian fundamentalism" has grown in the 1990s and represents the ideological base of the Russian Orthodox Church. In some respects, it is similar to that of the Serbian Orthodox Church in its anti-Westernism and anti-Semitism (Anzulovic, 1999, p. 120). But in several major respects they are different. First, the Serbian Orthodox Church only claims to speak on behalf of Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia (although in the latter case this is not possible, as a Macedonian Orthodox Church is recognized by Constantinople). The Serbian Orthodox Church has not, unlike the Russian Orthodox Church, sought to claim canonical jurisdiction over the whole of the former Yugoslavia. This is easier in the case of the Russian Orthodox Church because of the CIS. Second, the Serbian Orthodox Church is far more closely tied to Serbian ethnic identity. The destruction of the Serbian Orthodox Church during World War II, when it lost one-fifth of its clergy (Ramet, 1996), boosted this identification. The Serbian Orthodox Church saw the Croats as a threat because of the violence committed by the Nazi puppet Ustasa state against Serbs.

As Ramet (1996, p. 181) points out, "The Serbian Church views itself as identical with the Serbian nation since it considers that religion is the foundation of nationality." Ninety percent of those who define themselves as Serbs also claim to be Orthodox (Nations in Transit, 2002, p. 434), even though only 48 percent of women and 37 percent of men said they were religious in a 1994 survey (Ramet, 1996, p. 280). Under the Muslim Ottoman Empire, the Serbian Orthodox Church was the main forger of Serbian identity (Anzulovic, 1999, p. 79). The Serbian Orthodox Church was a staunch defender of placing all Serbs within one state, a policy that has not been supported by the Russian Orthodox Church toward Russians.

In the Russian Federation, the degree of correlation between Orthodoxy and Russian identity is exaggerated. Only 50 percent of individuals in the Russian Federation adhere to any religion, compared with 63-66 percent in Ukraine. In the Russian Federation, as few as 3.6 percent of people attend weekly church services, compared with 14 percent in Ukraine. Although the population of Ukraine is one-third the size of that of the Russian Federation, the "density of 'religious infrastructure'" is four times higher (Krindatch, 2003). During the Soviet era, two-thirds of Russian Orthodox parishes were in Ukraine. In the post-Soviet era, Ukraine has twice as many parishes as the Russian Federation, a country with a population three times the size of that of Ukraine (Kuzio, 2000). Third, the Russian Orthodox Church became the state church of the USSR in 1943, when the patriarchate was revived. Although there was also an anticommunist Russian Orthodox Church abroad, the Russian Orthodox Church inside the USSR willingly collaborated with the Soviet state, which co-opted it.

In contrast, the Serbian Orthodox Church was never co-opted by the communist authorities. "As a nationalist institution...the Serbian Church was, de facto, in opposition, even if in loyal opposition" (Ramet, 1996, p. 180). By the 1960s and 1970s, the Serbian Orthodox Church was the lone Serbian nationalist organization in Yugoslavia. In June 1989, the Serbian Orthodox Church released "A Proposal of Serbian National Program," which called for it to be allowed to build more churches, defend old shrines and churches, teach national history in previously taboo subjects (Kosovo, the Ustasa genocide against Serbs, Serbians during World War II), and promote Serbian values and religion in schools. Milosevic readily agreed to these steps.

In Western Ukraine, the Russian Orthodox Church cooperated with the Soviet secret police (NKVD) to destroy the Ukrainian Uniate (Greek-Catholic) Church in 1946, and, in gratitude, the Soviet state allowed it to take over Uniate Church properties. In contrast, in Yugoslavia the communist authorities encouraged the Macedonians to create an autocephalous Orthodox Church in 1967 so as to weaken the Serbian Orthodox Church. The corollary in the USSR would have been for the state to support Ukrainian Orthodox autocephaly from the Russian Orthodox Church.

In Yugoslavia, the Serbian Orthodox Church never became the state church. Prior to 1984, it was attacked for chauvinism and Greater Serbian nationalism. Such attacks on the Russian Orthodox Church only occurred in the 1920s, when Russian nationalism was not favored in the USSR. As Ramet (1996, p. 171) points out, "Serbian nationalism, which has always been close to the heart of the Serbian Church, was seen by the communists not merely as an arch enemy of the new Yugoslavia but even as an enemy of the Serbian people itself."

Only after Milosevic's rise to power after 1987 did the Serbian Orthodox Church move closer to the Serbian leadership. The Serbian Orthodox Church supported the commemoration of the 600th anniversary of the Kosovo battle in June 1989, which was attended by Milosevic. The following year, the first meeting took place between Milosevic and the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The Serbian Orthodox Church never protested the violent activities of Serbian paramilitaries in Bosnia and Croatia (Ramet, 1996, p. 280) and saw Milosevic as the long awaited liberator of Serbs (Perica, 2002, pp. 143-144). It lauded Milosevic, backed nationalist parties in the Serbian diaspora, compared Croatian President Franjo Tudjman to Ustasa leader Ante Pavelic (thereby vilifying Croats as intrinsically anti-Serb), and argued that Albanians were driven by Islamic fundamentalism (which was untrue). In April 1991, prominent members of the Serbian clergy openly called for revenge on today's Croats for Ustasa World War II crimes. Such outbursts on Ukrainians and Belarusians by the Russian Orthodox Church never took place.

This comparative study of Serb and Russian nationalism has reached six conclusions. First, the USSR and Yugoslavia undertook different nationalities policies. Yugoslav nationality policies long perceived Serbian nationalism as a threat, whereas in the USSR it was only in the 1920s that Russian nationalism was similarly condemned. Yugoslav nationality policies and hostility to Serbian nationalism therefore contributed to Serbian grievances, which came into the open after Tito's death in 1980. Russian nationalism was co-opted by the Soviet state from the-mid 1930s.

Second, a nation-state existed in Serbia prior to Yugoslavia, unlike in Russia. Serbia also had a long history of violently opposing foreign domination, whereas Russia had nearly always been an empire.

Third, Serbian and Russian nationalism are very different. Serbian nationalism is ethically based, whereas the Russian variety is statist, drawing on a tradition of imperial and great-power statehood. Serbian nationalism had struggled to create a nation-state from the Ottoman Empire. Russian nationalism had never sought to establish a nation-state, preferring instead multinational states or commonwealths.

Fourth, Serbian identity was not subsumed totally within a Yugoslav identity. Serbia possessed its own republican institutions, including an Academy of Sciences that drew up the famous 1986 Memorandum that had become Milosevic's ideological platform by 1989. The Russian SFSR never possessed its own institutions until 1990, only one year before the USSR disintegrated and Boris Yeltsin was elected Russian SFSR president. Only then did "Russia" begin to distance itself from the USSR. The lack of a Russian Communist Party until 1990 meant that great-power nationalism, Stalinism, and conservative communism, which had dominated the Soviet Communist Party until Mikhail Gorbachev became first secretary in 1985, could not find an institutional entrenchment for itself from which it could mobilize opposition to Gorbachev, Russian democrats, and non-Russian national democrats.

Fifth, the diaspora was seen as part of the Serbian nation and its fate was a central factor in mobilizing Serbian nationalism. Yugoslavia was understood as a way to maintain all Serbs within the same state. With Yugoslavia gone, a wide range of Serbian political parties clamored for border changes and a de facto "Greater Serbia" that would incorporate Serbian minorities.

The same was never true of Russian minorities for Russia. The only instance of Russian violent mobilization in Moldova was Soviet �- not ethnic Russian nationalist. Russian official policies and political parties never called for a "Greater Russia" but instead favored either a revived USSR or a Russian-dominated and led CIS.

Sixth, the Serbian Orthodox Church was never co-opted by the Yugoslav communists, unlike its Russian counterpart. The Serbian Orthodox Church is a church that sees as one of its roles the protection of Serbian identity and culture. The Russian Orthodox Church is not a purely Russian Church, but sees its canonical territory as the entire former USSR. Its identity is imperial, Soviet, and pan-eastern Slavic, not ethnic Russian.

Paradoxically, a weak Russian ethnic identity facilitated the peaceful disintegration of the USSR. At the same time, this has made the post-Soviet Russian Federation less committed to nation building, while a weak national identity continues to undermine the growth of civil society. In contrast, Serbian ethnic nationalism was a prime factor in unleashing ethnic conflict and a violent disintegration of Yugoslavia. Nevertheless, a robust Serbian identity has also helped to produce a far more vibrant civil society in Serbia than that found in the Russian Federation.

(The author is a resident fellow at the Centre for Russian and East European Studies and adjunct professor at the Department of Political Science, University of Toronto).


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