The post-Soviet countries where ethnic and linguistic heterogeneity is politically relevant, demonstrate to a large extend similar patterns, which are important for broader post-Soviet and ethnic studies:
(1) The post-Soviet governance of ethnic diversity reproduces the Soviet modes of diversity conceptualisation and to a large extend a similar terminology. In some countries the legislation on languages and national minorities was adopted or elaborated at the last years of the Soviet rule.
(2) After the Soviet Union’s breakdown, in many successors states loose formal institutions were combined with ambiguous mainstream discourses about nationhood and its founding principles. This system provides many opportunities to citizenry for ideological accommodation and offers numerous strategies for individual economic survival through informal networks and institutions. In terms of ethnic relations, the absence of rigid and restrictive institutional frameworks and strictly enforced normative requirements concerning language, citizenship, mass media and educational policies opens up numerous ways for social adaptation.
(3) ‘Ethnic relations’ is a segment of post-communist studies where the so-called transition paradigm still persists. Dr. Osipov argues that neo-patrimonialism is the most promising theoretic framework for approaching the post-communist realities, suggesting that ethnic politics develop in neo-patrimonial environments where public activities are subject to patron-client networks and informal institutions, and resources are allocated in exchange to personal and institutional loyalties (Eisenstadt 1973; Erdmann and Engel 2007).
Alexander Osipov is a Board member of the International Centre for Ethnic and Linguistic Diversity Studies, a think-tank incorporated in the Czech Republic. He is currently visiting scholar at the From September 2010 to May 2017 he was a Senior Research Associate of the European Centre for Minority Issues (Flensburg, Germany) and was heading ECMI’s Justice & Governance Cluster. Previously he worked in the Russian Academy of Sciences and in the Human Rights Centre ‘Memorial’. Currently his research interests include ethnic and racial discrimination, autonomy arrangements, diaspora issues and ethno-cultural diversity policies. He is also doing research on post-communist transformation in Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova. Among his publications are Institutional Legacies of Communism – Change and Continuities in Minority Protection, New York, NY: Routledge, 2013 (ed. with Karl Cordell and Timofey Agarin); The Challenge of Non-Territorial Autonomy: Theory and Practice, Oxford and Bern: Peter Lang, 2013 (ed. with Ephraim Nimni and David J. Smith); (2014) (together with Mikalai Biaspamiatnykh et al.) Policies of Ethno-Cultural Diversity Management in Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine: between Soviet Legacies and European Standards, Vilnius: European Humanities University (in Russian); Managing Diversity through Non-Territorial Autonomy: Assessing Advantages, Deficiencies, and Risks, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015 (ed. with Tove H. Malloy and Balázs Vizi).