The end of the end of history? : the Western concept of liberal democracy and Russia's struggle for normative hegemony : analisys of Russia's official discourse on democracy
By annexing a territory of the sovereign neighbouring state, Russia contradicted the very ideas that underpin the Western concept of liberal democracy, which sets the core principles cementing post-Cold War order. In the context of the Ukrainian crisis that started in November 2013, this thesis aims to explore Russia’s current interpretation and implementation of democracy, a notion which grossly differs from the liberal concept that was established and promoted by the West. Contrary to the Western perception of liberal democracy that aspires to potential promotion globally regardless of local political, economic and cultural systems, this thesis argues that democracy needs to be studied in the context of national identity formation. Therefore, Russia’s official discourse on democracy is analysed, tracing the conservative turn in Russia’s politics since 2012 when Vladimir Putin was elected for a third term as the President of the Russian Federation. Moreover, this thesis perceives democracy as an empty signifier that is hegemonically controlled by the West and open to various interpretations by other, non-Western civilisations, and which can be construed to serve their particular national agenda and contexts. This thesis further reveals how Russia’s official discourse on democracy is centred around three important nodal points. These are traditional values, the Near Abroad and information security. Russia often refers to, and uses the content of Western democracy rhetorically, yet in practice it re-interprets the meaning of democracy promotion as threatening its sacred values, violating stability in the post-Soviet space and the ‘Far Abroad’, and interfering with its information space. Lastly, this thesis concludes that Russia’s official discourse on democracy is predominantly about national security preservation and should be interpreted within the context of Russia’s relations with the West.