Frontlines is an editorial partnership between oDR and CEELBAS, a consortium of UK universities offering cutting-edge research and training on Russia, Central and Eastern Europe. The articles in this series, produced by early career academics, present new research from some of the most under-reported corners of the former Soviet Union.

In 2015, we turn to 'Religion, Ethnicity and Culture' as our guiding theme on the premise that the tensions between Russia’s many religions are driving social and demographic change all across Russia, the CIS and Baltic States. Indeed, these tensions have come to play a role in political strategy, which is manipulating ethnic divisions. As our authors suggest, is it possible to reconcile these religious and ethnic differences?

Photo (c) RIA Novosti/Aleksei Nikolsky.

The Russian Orthodox Church under Patriarch Kirill

RIA Aleksei Druzhinin Putin Abkhazia.jpgUnder Patriarch Kirill, the Russian Orthodox Church has become an integral element of the hegemonic narrative that has been created in Putin’s Russia, to inoculate the country from pernicious outside influences.

The Russian politics of multiculturalism

RIA Aleksei Druzhinin Putin Abkhazia.jpgThe relationship between religion and ethnicity on the one hand, and civic assimilation on the other, is far less harmonious than Putin’s magniloquence asserts.

Russia for the Russians – a putative policy


THE CEELBAS DEBATE // There have been tensions between native Russians and ethnic minorities since the Tatar Yoke of the 13th century. Successive rulers either tried to keep an uneasy peace or fanned the flames of division. Federica Prina discusses the Russian Government’s latest strategies for creating an identity that embraces all of Russia’s citizens. 

Culture war in Belarus

THE CEELBAS DEBATE // In the post-2010 crackdown, cultural expression has become synonymous with political resistance in Belarus. But is it really possible for a regime to fight against its own national culture, and survive, wonders Simon Lewis? 

Justice for Magnitsky, at least on stage?

THE CEELBAS DEBATE// In 2009 Sergei Magnitsky died in police custody, causing a commotion inside Russia and abroad. A year later, theatre company Teatr.doc staged ‘One Hour Eighteen’, a theatrical trial of those involved in Magnitsky's last days.  Molly Flynn considers the significance of this striking new form of political activism

Stavropol — frontline between Russia and the North Caucasus

THE CEELBAS DEBATE// Stavropol is the only one of seven North Caucasus territories with a majority Russian population. Andrew Foxall explores the implications of interethnic conflict on this increasingly fraught political frontline.

Goodbye Lenin: Tajikistan's new historical narrative

THE CEELBAS DEBATE // Since the collapse of the USSR the Tajik government has striven to establish a new historical narrative. Statues of Lenin may have disappeared, but for many the difficulties of post-Soviet life are a poor substitute for their previous life, says Eleanor Dalgleish

Kremlin games: when programming meets politics

THE CEELBAS DEBATE// Russia has a booming and influential video-game market. The authorities want to capitalise on the industry, but do they really understand how it works? 

All dissidents now: Russia's protests and the mirror of history

THE CEELBAS DEBATE // How far does the current clash between the opposition and authorities reflect Russia's history of dissidence?  Tom Rowley considers the importance of the similarities and differences. 

Banderlogs and network hamsters: the language of political protest in Russia

THE CEELBAS DEBATE// The role of the social networks in the organisation of recent political protest in Russia has been well documented. But the nature of revolution is changing, affecting language, literature and the involvement of the intellectuals, says Olga Breininger

Talking point: is culture the new politics in Russia?

How far has culture become a frontline in Russian politics, and how does it compare to earlier periods in the country's history? Introducing a new week-long CEELBAS debate on oDRussia, Artemy Troitsky, Peter Pomerantsev and Oliver Carroll discuss the nature of art, protest and the absurd. 

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