Bringing others into line: discourse on the roles within the Russian opposition - a regional glance



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Tartu Ülikool


The theoretical scholarship differentiating between various types of opposition entities, coined originally in the West, was successfully applied to the Russian political habitat. Known mostly as the ‘non-/systemic opposition’ cleavage, the given categorization is being employed by both punditry and academia. This research aims to add the practical perspective on the subject. Although the differentiation is solidly present within the political discourse, it remains not clear how the engaged actors – politicians, activists, scientists – make sense of it. The thesis analyses 14 in-depth interviews with public figures from Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. The non-/systemic categorization in given study is perceived through the post-structuralist lens as the cleavage operates within the political discourse and it is exercised as a political tool. By analysing the way in which the discourse is operated, the goal of the research is not only to define what constitutes the categories but also on the means of political fight connected to it. The cleavage is perceived as a tool to include/exclude, a source of identity and therefore a point of potential resistance. Among the pre-existing variables driving the categorization, the study finds that within the Russian depoliticized habitat factors such as ideology, perception on the past and employed political tools do not determine the political player’s place on the discussed matrix. The thesis reveals that the uniting factor for all the non-systemic forces lays in the approach towards the existing system. Additionally, due to the employed post-structuralist theoretical framework, the contribution reveals the political science vocabulary’s impact on public life. The findings hopefully indicate usefulness of the discursive analysis of the politicised language as it might answer questions on how the political challengers try to exercise their limited power within a skewed political field.