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Revealing SchemesThe Politics of Conspiracy in Russia and the Post-Soviet Region$
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Scott Radnitz

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780197573532

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780197573532.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 23 May 2022

The Emergence and Ascendancy of Conspiracism in Russia

The Emergence and Ascendancy of Conspiracism in Russia

(p.84) 5 The Emergence and Ascendancy of Conspiracism in Russia
Revealing Schemes

Scott Radnitz

Oxford University Press

This chapter explains Russia’s transformation from a regime of competitive conspiracism to one of sustained official conspiracism. It demonstrates that Russia’s leaders adopted conspiratorial rhetoric reactively and intermittently, in response to politically resonant events. It took a series of critical setbacks in 2004 and 2005—threats to sovereignty, challenges to Putin’s narrative about rebuilding Russia, and deteriorating relations with the West—to cause the shift. It analyzes four events that took place under differing circumstances and that correspond to relative peaks and valleys of conspiracism: the 1996 presidential election, the 2004 terrorist attack in Beslan, the 2005 anti-privatization protests, and the 2014 Euromaidan protests. Examining conspiracy claims in context reveals that Kremlin officials initially selectively embraced the conspiracy narratives of nationalist pundits and intellectuals. Later, the Kremlin adopted a strategy of sustained conspiracism to proactively frame those threats, a practice that became all-consuming by 2014.

Keywords:   Russia, Vladimir Putin, conspiracy theory, authoritarian backsliding, Yeltsin, Beslan, Ukraine, Euromaidan, sovereignty, geopolitics

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