Oktay (2016, p. 9) observes that due to rapid advances in technology and growing opportunities around the world, multiculturalism is increasingly taking root. In general terms, multiculturalism is described as a mixed ethnic community area characterized by the existence of multiple traditions (Noordenbos, 2016, p. 40). Countries around the world have been witnessing influx of migrants due to various reasons such as the search for education and employment opportunities and running away from political conflicts in their countries of origin among other reasons (Logvinova et al, 2016, p. 3302). However, some countries have been reluctant to embrace multiculturalism citing reasons like threat to security, erosion of their cultures and deprivation of economic opportunities for the natives; Russia is one such country (Alekseyeva, 2015). This paper will discuss how and to what extent Russia is not open to multiculturalism.
Russia has for a long time, and especially under the leadership of Vladimir Putin rejected the liberal civilization mode. Instead, they continue to favor religious identity and national culture. The consequence of this posturing is that it limits the thriving of multiculturalism in the country (Baer & Witt, 2018, p. 29). This is despite the fact that Russia is a diverse and vast nation which is expected to foster multiculturalism as a way of advancing universalism and promoting the ideals of international cooperation as espoused following the end of the World War II (Franklin & Widdis, 2014, p.63). By promoting a form of governance that is anchored in religious and national culture identity, Russia appears to be extending its nationalist ideology beyond the Christian Orthodox demographic base, thereby undermining multiculturalism (Molchanov, 2012, p. 51). In many instances, Russian leaders have strived to cultivate an image of multi-faith and multi-ethnic country (Oktay, 2016, pp. 106). In fact, the efforts by Russia and its leadership to demonsrate an image of multi-cultural society have been augmented by their very insistence that the strength of their nation lies in cultural diversity (Kappeler, 2013, p. 82). However, this has often proved to be superficial as the reality in the country depicts a nation that is largely dominated by the Russian identity with little room for the entrenchment of multiculturalism (Isurin, 2011, pp. 133).
The limited extent to which Russia is open to multiculturalism is evidenced by the continued and increasing anti-western sentiments, particularly by the country’s top political brass. Putin’s geopolitics positions his country as being between East and West (Baer & Witt, 2018, pp. 61). He is decidedly anti-western when it comes to the issues of morality and values. His position on this matter, and which has been assumed by a considerable percentage of the Russian population, is premised on the basic divergence between a secular West and religious Russia (Logvinova et al, 2016, pp. 3308). A case in point is the legislation that was passed in 2013 in Russia penalizing “gay propaganda” promotion to minors, along with criminalizing actions that are deemed to insult the religious feelings of others (Vaughn, 2016, pp. 95). It is such actions that have undermined the extent of entrenchment of multiculturalism in Russia. More and more people, especially from the Western world and with liberal ideologies are reluctant to live and work in Russia (Baer & Witt, 2018, p. 67).
In conclusion, the above discussion clearly demonstrates that there is a limited extent to which Russia is open to multiculturalism. This is despite the fact that the country is a rich concentration of languages and ethnicities unparalleled by most developed countries that have greatly embraced multiculturalism such as Australia and the United States. As has been noted, this situation can largely be attributed to the country’s rejection of liberal civilization mode in favor of religious and national culture identities.
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