Culture re-introduced: contestation of human rights in contemporary Russia

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Preclik, Petr
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Bearing in mind the insufficiency of the legal approach to human rights in explaining the various attitudes towards those rights among different societies, the presented thesis proposes re-introduction of cultural level into human rights scholarship. The aim of the thesis is to examine the interactions between rights and local cultural systems. The thesis argues that human rights, in order to become embedded in societal order and its institutions, have to be contested as semantic variables within the domestic discursive spaces of respective states. Having presented a theoretical model of the dynamics between human rights and culture, the thesis takes the Russian Federation as a case study to apply the model to. Russia, in this sense, represents an example of a historically strong identity undergoing deep changes and facing significant challenges of globalisation and the emergence of the global community with human rights as a dominant legitimising discourse. The thesis argues that Russian elites successfully securitised the human rights related discourse, as rights are perceived as cynical tools of submission of Russian society to the Western world view. The implications of such a securitisation on the relations between Russia and the Council of Europe and on general attitudes of Russia towards human rights are discussed.
Second semester Unversity: Tartu University
human rights, Russia, Russian Federation, intellectual life, national identity