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Fortress Russia: Conspiracy Theories in the Post-Soviet World



Fortress Russia: Conspiracy Theories in the Post-Soviet World

Ilya Yablokov

ISBN: 978-1-509-52265-1 September 2018 Polity 288 Pages



Allegations of Russian conspiracies meddling in the affairs of Western countries have been a persistent feature of Western politics since the Cold War – allegations of Russian interference in the US presidential election are only the most recent in a long series of conspiracy allegations that mark the history of the twentieth century. But Russian politics is rife with conspiracies about the West too. Everything bad that happens in Russia is traced back by some to an anti-Russian plot that is hatched in the West. Even the collapse of the Soviet Union – this crucial turning point in world politics that left the USA as the only remaining superpower – was, according to some Russian conspiracy theorists, planned and executed by Russia’s enemies in the West.

This book is the first-ever study of Russian conspiracy theories in the post-Soviet period. It examines why these conspiracy theories have emerged and gained currency in Russia and what role intellectuals have played in this process. The book shows how, in the new millennium, the image of the ‘dangerous, conspiring West’ provides national unity and has helped legitimize Russia’s rapid turn to authoritarianism under Vladimir Putin.
  • Contents
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Building ‘Fortress Russia’
  • Chapter 2: The Spectres of conspiracy mythmaking
  • Chapter 3: In Search of the ‘agents of perestroika’
  • Chapter 4: Sovereign democracy and its enemies
  • Chapter 5: Battling against ‘foreign agents’
  • Chapter 6: Shadows of the colour revolution
  • Chapter 7: The War has begun
  • Conclusion
Fortress Russia is essential reading for anyone in the USA and Western Europe who wants a greater understanding of how Russia views the world. Yablokov provides key insights into the popular politics within Putin’s Russia, much of it framed by conspiracy theories, at a time of rising populism and fearful nationalism around the world and much of which is keyed to conspiracies surrounding Putin himself. The book helps to reveal the dangerous hall of mirrors in which we live.’
Mark Fenster, author of Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture and The  Transparency Fix.

‘Ilya Yablokov takes us on a journey through the myriad conspiracy theories that flourish in post-Soviet political culture. The notion of a “subversive agency” is indeed a critical explanatory element for Russian society that gives sense to the profound and violent changes of the last three decades and has been opportunely instrumentalized by the Russian authorities to consolidate their legitimacy. Fortress Russia is a must-read for all those who wish to understand contemporary Russia and its perception of the world.’
Marlene Laruelle, The George Washington University