The Baltic Region

2022 Vol. 14 №4

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Ethnic minority organisations in Russia and Poland: a comparison challenge



This article proposes a framework for classifying ethnic minority organisations based on a broad combination of discursive and non-discursive criteria rooted in their political opportunities profile. One diasporic and one non-diasporic organisation were chosen for Russia and Poland, respectively. Diasporicity is understood according to William Safran’s criteria and Rogers Brubaker’s triadic configuration. The Russian study cases are Komi Voityr and the Russian Polish Congress; the Polish, the Silesian Autonomy Movement and the Belarussian House. The analysis of their status, activities, domestic and external political impact, localisation and role in the ‘triadic configuration’ has shown that the four cases are ethnic minority associations, and their legal status and scope of activities differ significantly. Their domestic political opportunities are rather scarce. Out of the four cases, just one organisation is an active part in Brubaker’s classical triadic configuration; its role is not traditional, ascribed to the respective ‘angle’. Although both Russian associations enjoy an official status, their activities are limited to the cultural, memorial and linguistic domains, primarily at the national level. In Poland, both associations act internationally as advocacy groups, and their activities are not confined to culture and language. Far from being universally applicable, the proposed classification framework can still add to the comparative ethnic politics toolkit.


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