National and Regional Identity in Kaliningrad Oblast from the Cross-border Perspective

Miłosz J. Zieliński 1
  • 1 Miłosz J. Zieliński – PhD student and researcher at the Institute of Slavic Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the University of Social Sciences and Humanities. He graduated from Warsaw University (faculties or International Relations, History and East European Cross-Cultural Studies, respectively). He was awarded U.S. Department of State, Casimir Pulaski Foundation and Institute of Slavic Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences scholarships. He works at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland. He also runs courses of foreign policy, international relations and strategic analysis.

Abstract

The article analyses the notion of national and regional identity of contemporary inhabitants of Kaliningrad Oblast, as seen by local government officials, NGO activists and researchers living and working in the Polish cities of Elbląg and Gdańsk. For the purposes of the article, nine in-depth interviews were chosen conducted. The article takes into account interviewees’ opinions based on their experience, everyday cooperation with institutions and private contacts with individuals from Kaliningrad Oblast. The main question addressed is to what extent inhabitants of Kaliningrad Oblast are perceived to be different from their compatriots from other regions of Russia in matters constituting national community: narrative of history, tradition, symbols etc. The role of the Local Small Border Traffic Agreement (LBTA) between Poland and Russia, which has served as an important means of facilitating cross-border contacts, was also evaluated. The article demonstrates that despite come regional peculiarities the most prevailing level of identity in Kaliningrad Oblast is that related to the feeling of belonging to the Russian nation.

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