In many countries of Europe, the rise and development of standard languages to match emerging nation states were relatively straightforward processes. The shaping of the Russian nation state, on the other hand, has triggered quite a few linguistic issues. This is due to various factors, which include the linguistic complexity of the territory, measured on sociolinguistic and functional as well as geographical dimensions.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, one of the main concerns of the new Russian state was the creation of a post-communist national identity. The Russian state faced major challenges in building a civic territorial nation, including (a) identification of the borders of the nation, (b) dealing with the status of millions of Russians residing outside the Russian Federation, (c) dealing with a multi-ethnic society and the status of non-Russians living within the borders of the Russian Federation, (d) positioning of the new Russian state in relation to other newly independent states in the post-Soviet space, and (e) reinventing a supra-ethnic common identity to turn the community of Russian citizens into a nation.
The politics of history and the culture of remembrance confront each other in their mutual interest in the search for a usable past. For present-day Russia in particular, the complex relationship between the past and its representation is invested with a high degree of urgency and importance. The collapse of the Soviet Union not only terminated an era of dictatorship, but also opened up a whole new perspective on history. Instead of a more or less homogeneous, state-imposed version of the national past, we now witness a proliferation of competing historical narratives that articulate the concerns and preoccupations of various groups of people.