The Impact of the Prague Spring on the USSR
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Wojnowski examines how ethnically and geographically defined patriotism conditioned Soviet popular reactions to the Prague Spring. Faced with a major crisis of the socialist system that challenged Soviet ideas of progress, leaders of the USSR were nonetheless able to rally many citizens around the idea that Soviet interests had to be protected against outside threats. Voicing loyalty to the Soviet homeland and its titular ethnic groups in various public forums, inhabitants of the western borderlands in particular sought to improve their social standing and even claimed the right to criticise official policy. The ‘search for socialism’ that had previously animated state–society dynamics was over in 1968. Soviet patriotism, often framed in xenophobic terms, became the main tool of social and political mobilisation in the USSR.