The new Russian identity and pseudo-Eurasianism
To be sure, some of elements of the creed have survived, given the ideological needs of the Russian elite. Officially, all citizens of the Russian Federation are considered “Rossiyane”. The term does not mean “citizens of the Russian Federation,” in the narrow, legalistic sense. It implies that all people of the Russian Federation constitute a particular transethnic unity, regardless of whatever culture or ethnicity they have. This element is clearly borrowed from “Eurasianism”, or to be precise, from the Soviet-era proclamation that all ethnicities of the country constitute one quasi-nation, the “Soviet People”. The prevailing ideology of the Russian Federation today does preach cultural “symbiosis”. But the Russian language and implicitly the culture are regarded as the backbone of the state. This is the ideology of Russian nationalism.
It is different from classical Slavophilism, which implied the intrinsic unity of all Slavs, especially Orthodox Slavs. Poles, in this new construction, were seen as “traitors” of Slavdom, the black sheep of the Slavic family. The new ideological framework practically denied the notion of Slavic solidarity. Second, it differs from the racially and ethnically bounded form of Russian nationalism popular among some segments of Russian disenfranchised youth. Russianness is defined by language and culture. In this context, there is little room for Eurasianism, with its stress on cultural and ethnic polyphony. Rossiyane has come to mean simply Russian-speaking people with different ethnic origins.
Eurasianism, in its traditional interpretation, implied the close “symbiosis” between Russians and the mostly Turkic people of Central Asia. As noted, Kazakhstan played a major role in constructing that Eurasian identity or ethos and possible geopolitical construction. But in recent years, Kazakhstan’s relationship with Russia became more tense. In response, Russian politicians such as political scientist Vyacheslav Nikonov, a member of the State Duma (the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia) proclaimed that Kazakhstan was an artificial country and its northern part, which has a considerable Russian-speaking and ethnic Russian population, should be brought back to Russia. Putin of course has made similar declarations about Ukraine.
Thus, as a framework for Russian internal policy or as a guiding principle of foreign policy, Eurasianism does not work. It has lost its original meaning. Yet, it is still used, but its current meaning is completely different from the original. Now, it no longer refers to a transethnic mosaic of ethnicities that make up a Eurasian/Soviet nation, but simply indicates a geography that Moscow regards as its “natural” sphere of influence. Russian nationalism prevails, and Eurasianism is now but a supporting concept.