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The New Iron Curtain?: Russian Foreign Policy Objectives in the Near Abroad

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The purpose of this paper is to examine why the Russian government has been taking political, economic, and military actions in Belarus and Ukraine, and the extent to which the Russian people support these actions. Many observers in the West

The purpose of this paper is to examine why the Russian government has been taking political, economic, and military actions in Belarus and Ukraine, and the extent to which the Russian people support these actions. Many observers in the West seem to believe that the Russian government is forcing its political will onto Russian citizens. However, public opinion research indicates that Russian citizens express a genuine support for the regime's political behavior in neighboring countries. Russian citizens seem to support the decisions to build closer relations with countries they consider culturally significant or culturally similar to themselves. Perhaps the clearest examples of these sentiments occur in relationships with Belarus and Ukraine. This is especially apparent when compared to Russian relations with the Baltic nations. Although these nations are home to a large numbers of Russians, the citizens of Russia do not consider the Baltics as significant as Belarus or Ukraine because of pronounced cultural differences. In this context, it seems as though Russian public opinion drives government action toward international relations with the Near Abroad nations perhaps just as much as the government influences public opinion.

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2014-05

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The International Foundations of Russian Gay Communities and Civil Society

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Civil society, when taken as a whole, is a complex phenomenon that incorporates several movements and can be accompanied with international support. For instance in 1987, 40 NGOs (non-governmental organizations) were registered by the government, and within 25 years, the

Civil society, when taken as a whole, is a complex phenomenon that incorporates several movements and can be accompanied with international support. For instance in 1987, 40 NGOs (non-governmental organizations) were registered by the government, and within 25 years, the number has increased to 300,000 in the present day Russian Federation. These numbers only include registered organizations, and do not count unregistered organizations, as approved under article 3 "Public organizations...can function without state registration and acquiring of the rights of registered legal body," or organizations that have been refused registration, such as the "Marriage Equality Russia" NGO that was denied registration in 2010. Thus the total amount of NGOs is significantly higher than 300,000. Every one of these NGOs "contribute to Russia‘s economic, political and social life in numerous ways and provide opportunities for citizens to help create better communities and elevate their voices" ("USAID in Russia"). With hundreds of thousands of organizations attempting to make a better society, they are creating a Russian civil society, one that could use the experience of countries with already well-established civil societies (Walzer). Walzer, however, notes the importance for civil society of political engagement with the state (317). In this thesis, I argue that the LGBT movement in Russia today has set an important example for other groups in civil society through its willingness to take on the Russian state through demonstrations and to use the state through the EU Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

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2012-12