Symbolic Politics of Georgia and Azerbaijan in Russia: Two Research Cases

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Abstract


One of the most actively discussed topics in modern political science is symbolic politics. This topic looks especially relevant in relation to the former Soviet republics, which are actively operating within the framework of the symbolic component of politics. Based on an interdisciplinary approach to the study of symbolic politics, the article analyzes two cases related to the symbolic politics of the two republics of the post-Soviet space - Georgia and Azerbaijan, respectively. The first case refers to an attempt by the leadership of the Georgian Orthodox Church to obtain permission from the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian authorities to transfer the ashes of Georgian kings Vakhtang VI and Teymuraz II from Astrakhan to Tbilisi. The second case studies the circumstances of the construction of a monument in Dagestan near Agachaul to Turkish soldiers who died here in 1918 during the Civil war. The two cases presented in the article are interesting primarily because they allow us to see the methods of symbolic politics using concrete examples. In both cases, the actors were not state structures, but religious, social, and scientific organizations. The main method of the actors was to organize a commemorative campaign, around which an information campaign was then built, with the aim of replicating a certain interpretation of historical events. At the same time, cases differ from each other in the degree of openness and scale of actions of actors. In the first case regarding the transfer of the ashes of Georgian tsars, the Georgian side directly addressed both the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church and the leadership of Russia. At the same time, the actions undertaken by the Georgian side were not successful. In the second case, the Azerbaijani side actively used the local commemorative campaign, initiated by local communities in Dagestan, to launch an appropriate wide information campaign. A comparison of cases leads to the conclusion that the success of a symbolic policy does not depend on the scale of the actions taken.


About the authors

Mikhail Alekseevich Volkhonsky

MGIMO University

Author for correspondence.
Email: VolhonskyMA@yandex.ru
Moscow, Russian Federation

PhD in History, Senior Research Fellow, Center for Caucasus Problems and Regional Security

Akhmet Aminovich Yarlykapov

MGIMO University

Email: itbal@mail.ru
Moscow, Russian Federation

PhD in History, Senior Research Fellow, Center for Caucasus Problems and Regional Security

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