Russia Looks For Uniting Idea To Develop
Novgorod Oblast

Valdai Discussion Club presented the new report, National Identity and the Future of Russia. The report was based on the results of the 10th anniversary meeting of the Valdai Club in September 2013.

Valdai Discussion Club presented the new report, National Identity and the Future of Russia .

A national idea uniting the Russians is needed to boost the country’s development, said Sergei Karaganov , Member of the Valdai Club Advisory Board and Dean of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs at the Higher School of Economics at the presentation of the report.

“Russia cannot develop unless it understands what it is, what is its identity, unaware of the goal of its development,” Karaganov added.

This urgent need is the reason behind the report, Karaganov said. “The nation has rejected the Soviet identity and never did reconnect to the pre-revolutionary one,” he wrote in the foreword to the report. “Neither the society, nor the intellectual class has found an idea that would bring the country together and assure its progress,” he continued.

The authors of the report, young Russian scholars - Anastasia Likhacheva and Igor Makarov of the Higher School of Economics, attempt to answer the most fundamental of questions: who are the Russians, and what the future holds for them. Pavel Andreev , Executive Director of the Valdai Club Foundation, Alexander Gabuev, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Kommersant-Vlast, and Ekaterina Makarova, lecturer at the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, Higher School of Economics also contributed to the report. Sergey Karaganov was the scientific supervisor of the project.

They found that at the moment culture, based on the Russian language is the only cultural bond uniting Russians. The authors suggest that emphasis should be on the human capital.

“The future of Russia is the future of the people who populate it,” Anastasia Likhacheva said at the presentation of the report. The study suggests socialization, support for creativity, strengthening Russian culture, new large-scale projects and symbols of the country – could help bring people together and boost their sense of belonging to a state or a nation.

"Russia has always been a country of mega projects. Look at the construction of St Petersburg, or at the construction of Trans -Siberian railroad," said Igor Makarov. "We have just finished the mega-project of Sochi, which despite several controversies proved to have a strong consolidation potential. But Sochi is over and we need to find a new project," he said, outlining the possible options. "It could be some new infrastructure projects, or Crimea, or the Eurasian Economic Union."

These options have a common drawback - they are not economically beneficial, Makarov said. "What we see as a viable option is the new development of Siberia and the Far East," Makarov said.

The project will strengthen ties with Asia including political and economic relations with the growing region. The strategy of developing Siberia and the Far East can be found in another recent Valdai Club report .

The report also indicates that the way Russians are defines perceptions of the country abroad, so that to boost Russia’s image it needs to boost human capital.

“The way we are is important for the way our country is perceived,” Andreev said. “The image of our country, given modern communication technologies – online technologies, overseas trips, business contacts, cultural exchanges, quality of human capital is more and more important,” he added.

The report outlines three key aspects in the development of human capital in Russia – “education (the future), the sense of ownership of one’s country (the present), and respectable acceptance of one’s own history (the past).”

“The strategy to bolster the Russian identity is above all necessary in the context of developing human capital,” the report says. It suggests that encouraging success and those who create it, socialization of citizens, building a rule-based state, using the culture, education and the media for social engineering and national character, as well as a new large-scale project are much needed.

The authors of the report laid out their views on Russia’s national identity in a way that transcends the traditional academic framework and leaves room for a free and wide-ranging discussion.

The report was based on the results of the 10th anniversary meeting of the Valdai Club in September 2013.