Russia - A Hiatus In The Biographical Timeline.

As previously stated, a state's biographical narratives play an important part in its ontological stability. 

By telling a captivating tale, these narratives bring people together as a group. 

Such biographical consistency provides a feeling of security and helps one operate as a social actor by confronting existential fear (Patterson and Monroe 1998, 325). 

These narratives shape our perceptions of ourselves and the world around us (Hankiss 1981). 

Embedded biographical narratives are inextricably linked to the ontological security demands of a state. 

Political actors selectively activate narratives (Suboti 2016, 1). 

These political players use common cognitive story frameworks to further their own political goals. 

When Putin said in 2005 that the fall of the Soviet Union was "the worst geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century," he was alluding to a significant break in the country's biographical continuity, both internally and internationally (Putin 2005). 

At the same time, this story was supposed to justify Russia's desire to restore itself as a major force and rethink its relationship with the West. 

Putin's proposal was well-received by the Russian people, who had battled to find a unified identity after the fall of the Soviet Union. 

There was an initial intention in the post-Soviet era to break this continuity by drawing a strong line between the Soviet history and the non-Soviet present. 

By the middle of the 1990s, this fad had run its course (Oushakine 2007, 452). 

A range of variables, both endogenous and foreign, contributed to this transition. 

The West, which claimed victory in the Cold War, robbed Russia of its superpower position and abused it internationally. 

Domestically, the 1998 financial crisis, the Chechen War, and the general lack of social stability sparked escapist attitudes and a reflecting nostalgia for Soviet days. 

"The past in modern Russia has transformed into a type of ideal or future imperfect," writes Svetlana Boym (both are clear deviations from Russian grammar). 

There was a lot of ambiguity regarding what should be remembered and what should be forgotten" (Boym 1995, 152). 

In the 1990s, there was a need for the type of history that would make one proud, both in government and in general society. 

It seems as though restoring greatness' biographical continuity would make up for the disappointing present. 

The nation was ripped apart by internal strife and a deteriorating condition; it required a uniting ideology more than ever to maintain its unity. 

As a result, the state took an active role in moulding Russia's communal memory (Gorbachev 2015). 

During Putin's presidency, the government sought to deliberately revive the country's biographical narrative of great might. 

The collapse of the ideological line that divided the pre-Soviet and Soviet pasts was the most significant shift from the early post-Soviet era. 

As a powerful memory keeper, the Russian government played a purposeful role in maintaining the continuity of great power rhetoric. 

In official Russian discourse, the adjectives "continuity," "stability," and "conservatism" eventually supplanted the word "modernization." Modernization entails a leap into the future by modifying the past, while nostalgia idealizes the past selectively and maintains historical continuity (Gorbachev 2015, 184). 

Furthermore, nostalgia may be interpreted in a variety of ways. 

For example, Boym (1995) uses historical conceptions of sobornost' (community ideals) championed in Russia in the past to justify ambitions for great power status. 

Oushakine (2007), on the other hand, views nostalgia for Soviet times to be a type of "aphasia" — the inability to think of new ideas. 

Boym (1995) uses the example of a New Year's Eve concert, Starye pesni o glavnom, in her research (Old Songs about the Most Important Things). 

Popular singers performed Soviet-era songs against the backdrop of a Soviet film in the performance. 

This concert, according to Oushakine (2007), is a vivid illustration of "aphasia," a meaning that pervades Russian culture in the lack of new system-creating notions. 

Namedni (The Other Day), a Russian television production, became a symbol of post-Soviet nostalgia. 

The television version covered the years 1961 to 2003, whereas the novels covered 1946 to 2010. 

The goal of the initiative was to get a better understanding of the period's history via personal memories. 

Despite author Leonid Parfenov's best attempts, nostalgia became a significant component of the project, where history is swamped by memory and its pictures of the past (Gorbachev 2015; "The other Day," n.d.). 

In 1991, the series' nostalgic era comes to an end. 

The breakup of the Soviet Union presents a clear boundary, a "point of transition" from a joyful past to an unpleasant present, allowing nostalgic feelings to flourish (Abramov and Chistiakova 2012). 

Those from the 1960s to the 1980s elicit much more favorable sentiments than stories from subsequent periods. 

They have the coherence, consistency, and predictability that characterize that age, evoking memories and ideals that are known and, for the most part, pleasant to the majority of Russia's present generation. 

Such coherence breaks at the start of Perestroika, with a kaleidoscope-like manner of narrating, signaling the system's breakdown (Gorbachev 2015, 188; "The other Day," n.d.). 

Consequently, despite its stated goal of addressing communal memory in a reflective manner, Namedni might be considered as a useful instrument in the state's wider drive to re-create "shared identity" signifiers. 

It contributes to the creation of a sentimental myth for older generations, as well as a narrative continuity through generations. 

Youth may be indoctrinated into the allure of the Soviet narrative if the show is viewed by the whole family. 

The major reason for the program's success is its ability to fulfill not just the collective nostalgic yearning, but also to socially recreate the narrative continuity of the nation's myth. 

To summarize, we looked at Russia's unique position in the global system, which is shared by the country's present leadership. 

This exceptionalism is crucial in the development of a great power rhetoric for Russian ontological security. 

The conversation is steeped in history and promotes the country's biographical continuity. 

Russian great power rhetoric varies from that of the West in terms of subjectivity and perception. 

Initially conceived as a reaction to the country's physical security demands, it has now become ingrained and a part of Russia's ontological security as a result of its continuing usage. 

However, the Russian people and the state suffered a severe identity crisis as a result of its disintegration. 

The country's political leadership has been deftly exploiting the great power narrative in recent years, selectively reactivating discourses on "Russia as a strong state," "Russia as an empire," and "Russia in opposition to the West" for their own political objectives. 

We look at the role of ontological security in rivalry with other players in Venezuela for gas and political influence in Africa, as well as the Russian invasion of Crimea and intervention in Syria, in other articles and chapters. 

Under Putin's leadership, these incidents aim to reflect the activation of major ontological tendencies. 

Despite their similarities, they take place in the context of Moscow's diverse material capacities and worldwide reach. 

While the acquisition of Crimea took place in the country's "near abroad," rivalry for Venezuelan oil, the Syrian war, and participation in Africa had a broader global scope. 

The Crimean case study, in particular, examines the ontological justifications for Russian engagement. 

Ontological narratives that were triggered during the standoff have been evident in Russia's ongoing policies in Ukraine, including the annexation of Crimea, for the most part.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

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