This research studies geopolitical identities of contemporary Russians by focusing on the ‘Russian World’ (Russkii mir) project, promoted by the pro-Kremlin intellectuals and the political elite in the last fifteen years. The Russian World project aims at consolidation and instrumentalization of the Russian diaspora which counts up to 30 million people worldwide. However, the ability of the state to project its influence abroad through the Russian world infrastructure is significantly limited due to the diaspora's relative independence from Moscow. This means that the Russian world project heavily depends on its 'soft power' strategies of representations. The present research offers a complex tripartite analysis of the Russian world project through the prism of critical geopolitics. This analysis is pursued on the following levels: 1) 'critical geopolitics', which discusses the Russian world project in the context of geopolitical ideologies and traditions such as Eurasianism, 'Holy Russia' geopolitics, 'Orthodox civilization', pan-Slavism; 2) 'practical geopolitics' examines the Russian world as a soft power strategy of nation-(re)branding through different legistative and media initiatives; 3) 'popular geopolitics' uncovers shifts in identities and self-representations associated with the enactment of the Russian world project. The project proposal demonstrates that the whole top-down structure of the Russian world has been created recently, which includes federal agencies, departments at the ministry level, ‘independent’ (if fact, state-sponsored) foundations, local ‘Russian centers’ abroad as well as parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church which became very active under Kirill I Gundiaev’s rule as a patriarch. However, the real outcome of the Russian world project will be determined on a more fundamental level, because this project evokes the transfiguration of the Russian identity along the lines of decentralization and deterritorialization of the (self)images.
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