Russian Themes


This compilation features books of the Central European University Press, published since its establishment in 1993, that have some relevance to Russia, its contemporary history and culture. For pre-revolutionary Russian themes click here; for the Soviet period click here.
After the latest release, titles in the backlist are arranged by content: contemporary topics are on top, older themes below. For more substantial information about the content and availability, please click on the covers of the book, or on the links inserted into the citations.

“Among the CIS countries, the strongest economic reforms were initially undertaken by Russia, including the first years of Putin’s presidency which, for instance, witnessed an ambitious liberal tax reform.”—Russia's Imperial Endeavor and Its Geopolitical Consequences.
“In the most massive series of governor replacements, which took place in 2016- 2018, some 57% of the 47 newly appointed regional heads were so-called ‘Varangians’ who had nothing to do with the region.”
“If the 1922 situation was restored as Putin proposed, most of the Rostov region (including Taganrog, Shahti, and Gukovo) would be Ukrainian. These territories were transferred from the Ukrainian republic only in 1923–1924.”
“War is a crash test, and so far everything suggests that the Russian patronal system is passing it successfully. Notable figures in power and business have remained in their places, and everyone is demonstrating their loyalty to Putin. This contrasts surprisingly with the role of the oligarchs, whose informal position and influence has greatly deteriorated.”

“The 1878 Treaty of Berlin can be seen as the beginning of the end of the empires in Eastern Europe, ending in 1918–20 with the defeat of Russia, Germany, and Austria-Hungary.”—Globalization, Nationalism, and Imperialism.
“The entire social and economic framework of the pre-existing non-capitalist system was dismantled overnight. Some six million premature deaths in Russia during the 1990s amounted to the worst demographic catastrophe suffered by modern societies outside of wars and famine.”
“The new President Putin was sympathetic to America and did not protest when Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan permitted use of their bases by American troops soon engaged in the war in Afghanistan. This attitude disappeared during the first decade of the 21st century and became hostile and irrational.”
“Russia possessed at the beginning of that war more than four times the active military firepower that Ukraine had under its military command. In the Global Firepower Rank Order, Russia was second only to the United States. Ukraine ranked 22nd.“

Books with a Russian focus:

“Russia’s logic goes as far as to argue that given Russia’s weakness (demographic, conventional military, and economic) against the West, the only possible response is the asymmetric response. Therefore, it is not Russia that wages a hybrid war against the West, it is the other way around.”—The War in Ukraine's Donbas.
“Russia sent a combination of intelligence and mercenary forces into eastern Ukraine to foment rebellion and overthrow local governments. The attempt failed.”
“It is naïve to assume that if only Putin would call the DPR and LPR leaders and order them to lay down their arms, they would obey.”
“The Donetsk People’s Republic created almost all state attributes modeled after Russia. It only lacks a constitutional court and board of audit, which makes its reintegration into Ukraine even more unrealistic.”
“The Ukrainian lesson should become a stern warning for NATO members, especially Romania, Bulgaria, and Montenegro (areas, seen by Moscow as a part of the ‘Russian world’).”

“Discrepancy between the formal borders of Russian Federation and the lingering Russian geopolitical imaginaries produces what is sometimes called ‘phantom pains,’ a kind of hypersensitivity about former imperial territories.”—Eurasian Integration and the Russian World
“Patriarch Kirill argues that countries of the ‘historical Rus’ have substantial grounds to integrate as they belong to one unique civilizational space.”
“The new Russia is seen as ‘rising from its knees,’ able to resist both the global domination of the EU and the US and their perceived attempts to impose Western norms on Russian domestic life.”
“The ‘public face’ of Eurasian regionalism thus covers a complex array of agendas that are not necessarily related to the official agenda of economic integration and have more to do with Russian perceptions of world order, Western hegemony and the Russian Self.”

"A person outside of Moscow Conceptualism is regarded as a priori incompetent (although he is given a chance to prove the opposite)." A critic's remark grasped the mind-set evolved among avant-garde artists in the Soviet environment. With the collapse of the Soviet system guitarist bards gave way to marketed performers: similar transition happened in the visual arts as well - this is the last phase of the story of an art movement that began in the 1970s, told in the book that seeks to understand the fate of the artistic imagination in one of the most ideologically charged moments of the twentieth century.

  • A collection of documents that are essential to understanding Russian foreign policy and analysis by leading scholars of Russia's post-Soviet foreign policy.

Other CEU Press books with relevance to contemporary Russian history and culture:

“In countries like Russia and Kazakhstan, oligarchs do not lobby and make competing offers to politicians but are given a position from the top down by the head of the network, the chief patron.”—A Concise Field Guide to Post-Communist Regimes.
“Russia engages in autocracy promotion, supporting autocratic breakthroughs, local chief patrons, and the longevity of established patronal autocracies in general.”
“In large mafia states like Russia, sub-sovereign mafia states are local governments realizing in small what the central government does in big, according to informal central authorization.”
“The war brought an end to the ‘golden age’ of oligarchs who could keep their assets abroad safely, under the protection of the rule of law and the respect of private property of liberal democracies. Western economic sanctions freezing the assets of the Russian elite and their family members show an X-ray image of Putin’s adopted political family.”

“In the case of the post-communist informal patronal network, developed into a single-pyramid in Russia by Vladimir Putin by 2003, formal and informal roles and positions churn in an opaque, untraceable conglomeration”—The Anatomy of Post-Communist Regimes.
"There is no bigger difference between Putin’s Russia and Orbán’s Hungary in 2019 than the difference was between Brezhnev’s Soviet Union and Kádár’s Hungary before 1989.”
“Contrary to popular belief, the church has not been a system-defining institution but rather a system-covering ideological robe of the Russian regime. “
“While Russia keeps former Soviet countries on a leash through the control of supply prices, outside the post-Soviet region Gazprom is used for direct bribery and money laundering with the help of cooperative populists.”
“Russia, which is a civilizational core state, is also the core of a criminal ecosystem.”

“The pro-Russian sympathies of the local administrative and industrial elites were stronger in Kharkiv than anywhere else, including Donetsk. These were counterbalanced by the local intellectual elites, as the city enjoys the status of an academic and cultural metropolis in Ukraine.”—from the book on regional specificities in Ukraine.
“Even in western Ukraine, many teachers are convinced that Russian is a necessary discipline and explain this by giving the reason that in the Soviet state Russian was the dominant language. A second argument in favor of Russian is often linked to Russian literature.”
“Orthodoxy, as the antithesis to the West, has become an official political doctrine of Russia, which has been vigorously embraced in the separatist regions of Ukraine.
“Serhii Zhadan, who comes from the mostly Russian-speaking Kharkiv and writes exclusively in Ukrainian, warns against a Ukrainian language ghetto and calls for the inclusion of Russian-language authors in the Ukrainian canon.”

“Brodsky challenged Kundera and claimed that Russian literature was the basis of European literature as a whole and asked what the ‘central Europeans’ had to show for themselves.”—The Legacy of Division.
“After Russia lost a third of its economy in the 1993 depression, it wasn’t easy to convince Russians to see themselves as winners.”
“The point of Russia’s interference in the 2016 American elections was not to have a president that they could control, but to show America that Russia could do to it what it had been doing to them.”
“Russia plays a colossal destructive role by propagating a cynical attitude towards politics, in an attempt to undermine democratic institutions and structures.”
“Some elements are also calling for the UK to become more closely allied with Russia. So the future of Britain outside the EU could be in a new alliance with Russia, Hungary and Poland. Politically, Britain would thus become part of the ‘New East’.”

“Putin has restored—but crucially in a new form—the neo-nomenklatura system, this fundamental feature of the Soviet regime to sustain a solid and loyal elite through which to govern.”—from a volume on post-communist regimes.
“The key role of the dominant party is to endorse the will of the executive branch in the legislature, while maintaining the façade of democratic discourse. Both the party system and the dominant party, United Russia, continue to carry out this mission.”
“The presence of reiderstvo practices is central to the question of what went wrong with the post-Soviet economic reform and why market capitalism failed to be established in Russia.”
“Dynastic succession did not exist in Putin’s Russia, and never will. At best, children may capitalize on the role and influence of their fathers, and when occupying top positions sometimes even serve as guarantors of their fathers’ loyalty, in case of their demotion or resignation.”

“Orbán’s system approaches the Putin model of the mafia state by a detour, through the West, and establishes itself as a Trojan horse of the post-communist mafia states within the ramparts of the European Union. While Orbán’s regime grew out of the corrupt state administration of liberal democracy, in Russia a regime combining an anarchy of the oligarchs with a weak central power was replaced by a pyramid like chain of command built on the networks of patron-client relationships, a shift that could not have occurred without the monopolization of political power.”
“Gazprom, Rosneft, Rosatom are not run-of-the-mill corporations with mere economic interests, but also the instruments of Russian imperial interests supported by their secret services, extensions of the rekindled Russian imperial influence. They fit snugly into these ambitions—their motive is not merely profit maximization, but also serving national interests.”
“From 2010 onwards, Orbán has broken the tradition of politics conducted since 1993: the anti-Russian sentiment linked to anticommunism.”

“For most Russians, the transition from closed to open society took the form of imperial collapse, economic disintegration, and the weakening of public order and welfare supports. It is no surprise that an alternative to open society began to emerge after a decade of chaotic opening to the global economy.”
The history, achievements and failures of the open society concept re-examined.
“All in all, these are open society’s new enemies: the single party autocracies of Russia and China, the illiberal democracies of Eastern Europe, and the democratic populists in Western Europe and North America.”
“Soviet Russia and Mao’s China were closed societies in an ideological sense, committed to a systemic alternative to capitalism—the socialist mode of production—which they tried to export to developing countries in the global south. Today’s Russia and China have no alternative economic model to export.”

“There is a kind of a modern martyrological imperialism going on in typical official Russian proclamations, the victims who are discussed lived well beyond the territory of today’s Russian Federation.”
“The Famine in the USSR, 1930–1934, a glossy, full-color anthology of archival documents explicitly refuted Ukrainian claims of exceptionalism and genocide, stressing the breadth of the famine’s impact on Russian, Cossack, and Kazakh populations, and the coercive but nonmurderous intent of the period’s punitive policies.”
“Documents on the Katyn massacre supported the official Russian position that the tragedy was the result of the officials’ abuse of power rather than any officially sanctioned action.”
“In history textbooks, things are described in such a way that it makes your hair stand on end.” Putin’s populist demand for a unified patriotic curriculum found immediate support in public opinion polling.

The relationship between history and politics in Eastern Europe experienced many dramatic changes since the beginning of Perestroika over 25 years ago. The 1990s and the beginning of 2000s were very productive years for historians. The "archive revolution" defined this period. Nonetheless there was growing concern in Moscow over the intensification of Eastern European historical policies targeted at Russia in the 2000s. The dramatic U-turn historical politics took in Russia after 2009-2010 is a major focus of analysis.

  • The search of identities in the official and alternative "Belarusianness", defined of course vis-à-vis "Russianness"; also in the sovereignty movement taking place in Tatarstan; Kalmykia presented to the English reading academic world.
  • Among twenty-nine post-communist transition models the political and economic performance of Russia is also examined; privatization, its policies, practices and outcomes in six transition economies, including the Russian Federation.
  • Studies on subjects like motherhood, childbearing, single mothers, divorce etc. present family life and childhood in Soviet times and in post-Soviet Russia and the Baltic States.
  • The anatomy of the Soviet past in contemporary Russian cinema in the context of post-1989 representation of communism.
  • With regard to the use of media in our age in the post-communist countries, one edited comparative volume seeks to characterize media systems: the Russian case wavers between a polarized pluralist model, a polarized corporatist model, or simply an authoritarian model. Another collection of essays observes media in the context of identities, discussing among others cases of Russian minorities in Kazakhstan, Estonia, Latvia and Ukraine.