The impact of war in Ukraine on the national identity of Russian-speakers in Estonia: the case study of Narva



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Tartu Ülikool


The purpose of this master’s thesis is to find out how the war in Ukraine affected the level of national identity of the Russian-speaking residents of Narva. Did the inhabitants of the border city become more tied with Estonia or, on the contrary, turned towards Russia after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. A high level of national identity is important for any state, because it shows the unity of the population, its cohesion, a look in one direction. International and Estonian scientific literature was used as a theoretical basis for this master’s thesis. Empirical analysis is based on 50 individual interviews with residents of Narva of different ages and genders, and interviews with three focus groups consisting of residents of the city. All interviews were analyzed, and the respondents were divided into 3 age groups based on common features: the young generation, the middle-aged generation and the older generation. The study revealed that the society of Narva is not homogeneous, different age groups have different levels of national identity (from strong to weak), while even in the same age group there can be diametrically opposed attitudes towards Estonia. The main trend is that the younger respondents are, and the better their level of knowledge of the Estonian language, the less they are engaged in the Russian information field, the higher the level of their national identity. However, changes in the level of national identity are also noticeable among the older generation. In the Conclusion part, the author will share their thoughts on how to improve the national identity of those age groups in which the majority of respondents were with a low level of national identity. The results of thesis can be used in the future to develop strategies for integrating Narva residents into Estonian society, enhancing their national identity.