Amandine Regamey

The legend of women snipers who allegedly fought against Russian forces in Chechnya was first fueled by war stories among Russian troops before Russian authorities officially embraced and promoted the narrative. It was eventually disseminated in society through movies and literature. This legend offers insights into the war narratives of Russian troops about the war in Chechnya and its portrayal in Russian society more generally. It consists of different intertwined layers that vary in importance and significance, all of which contribute to its success. Drawing on the figure of the « Wight Tight », mythic women mercenaries from the Baltic States, the legend portrays Russia as a victim of an aggression thus legitimizing the war in Chechnya. Additionally, the legend recounts the experience of Russian soldiers, therefore providing grounds for Russian political and military leaders to stigmatise women and justify the violence committed against civilians. Finally, it allows men serving in Chechnya to construct a male identity based on the war experience, which is able to oppose the imaginary threats of these female enemies. The text addresses also the way war legend can help understand armed conflict, and the way scattered sources and questionable testimonies can be turned into an object of research.

Guillaume Colin

As the European Union has become ever more powerful in terms of political output, it has also turned out to be a potential source of human rights violations. While national governments have disagreed on setting up consequential control mechanisms for several decades, the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights pre-empted intergovernmental choice. The European courts’ paths unexpectedly crossed when they were both impelled to work out a way to deal with a twofold human rights conundrum situated at the EU level. Turbulent interaction between Europe’s two supranational courts has not only led to a relative improvement of the protection of human rights, but has also deeply transformed the course of European integration. The courts’ increasingly nested linkage has given rise to new forms of supranational judicial diplomacy between European judges. As a result of their evolving relationship, which is simultaneously underpinned by competitive and cooperative logics, the traditional opposition between an “economic Europe” and a “human rights Europe” has been overcome and the EU’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights is high on the political agenda. Yet, this process of integration through human rights remains a fragile and incomplete endeavour. Just as in co-operative binary puzzles where two players must solve the game together and where both lose as one of them tries to win over the other, solving Europe’s binary human rights puzzle has required of European judges a new way of thinking in which it’s not the institutions, but their linkage that matters.

Myriam Désert

What are the roots of the informal sector and what effects does it have? Is it a blessing or a curse? Changes in post-Soviet Russia contribute new food for thought to a debate that had previously been nourished primarily by considerations on the situation in developing countries. In Russia can be observed processes of formalization - and “deformalization” – of the rules governing not only the practices of economic actors, but also in the rarified distribution of public services publics. The analysis of actual informal practices feeds thinking about the relations between economic and political changes: what impact do they have in setting up a market economy and the rule of law, and in the reconfiguration of both the economic and social arena? An investigation into the way Russian academic circles and social actors view the informal sector sheds light on the various behavioral determinant: reaction to the economic context, cultural roots, social beliefs, and so on. The case of Russia illustrates how the informal sector is not only a mode of action that circumvents legal guidelines, but also a mode of sociability that rejects anonymous social relations. It helps examine ways to reinject the social aspect into economics

Françoise Daucé, Myriam Désert, Marlène Laruelle, Anne Le Huérou

Since the second half of the 1990s, the theme of national revival crystallized in Russia, notably in the form of a promotion of patriotism. The apparent convergence between an offer “from above” and a demand “from below” supports the idea that there exists a kind of patriotic consensus in Russia. This new tense and autarchic fusion between state and society summons old stereotypes about Russo- Soviet culture. This issue of Questions of Research seeks to go back over these stereotypes in order to show the diversity of “patriotic” practices in Russia today (which widely surpass the “militarist” variant generally evoked) and the connected social uses that are made of it. Following an overview of the existing literature on Russian nationalism and patriotism, as well as a presentation of the patriotic education curricula being implemented by the Russian state, our study on “patriotic” practices continues through several points of observation (patrioti c summer clubs and camps for children and adolescents in Saint- Petersburg, Moscow and Omsk; ethno-cultural organizati ons; Orthodox religious organizations; and the discursive practices of economic actors). The examination of these different terrains reveals the diversity of everyday “patriotic” activities; and illustrates their utilization to multiple ends (pragmatic concern for one’s professional career, search for a personal source of inspirati on, opportunities for enrichment, pleasure of undertaking activiti es with one’s friend and relations…). In the end, these fieldwork surveys reveal motivations and commitments in which official patriotic discourse and the image of state are often secondary, sometimes even denied.

Elisabeth Sieca-Kozlowski

The post-Soviet Russian army, having decided to maintain the draft, must address issues associated with the existence of ethnic and religious minorities; specifically the growing numbers of Muslims and the proselytizing by the Orthodox Church. The Russian Orthodox Church’s policy of blessing the troops is the source of growing discontent among the Muslim community. The two conflicts in Chechnya have further contributed to the difficulties faced by the army’s Muslim minority. However, protests by Muslim leaders have lost their legitimacy since 1999. The policies of reconciliation led by Vladimir Putin have born fruit. The Muslim religious authorities have become increasingly involved in the draft, army officers have been educated about the basic principles of Islam, and “stroibaty” have been dismantled. The management of the forces however remains a source of tension, most notably the official policy of using the reorganization of local and ethnic groups to eradicate the “dedovchtchina”. Given the growth of the Muslim population what can we expect from a move to a professional army? Will the armed forces mirror the diversity of the nation or will they be ethnically and religiously homogeneous?