The Image of Russia in Serbian Post-2000 Public Discourse and Its Impact on the Development of Political Cleavages.

The aim of the paper is to reconstruct the main lines of political divisions that occur within Serbian public discourse and are created around the attitude towards Russia as a point of reference.

Despite the institutional change that took place in 2000 and the democratization process which started at the same time, Serbian political cleavages still has a symbolic, postcolonial character and are determined by the attitude towards Russia. The argument on the meaning of Moscow as a key element of postcolonial socio-political cleavages (periphery – center) in Serbia will be examined through analysis of public discourse and the policy of state institutions. Simultaneously, I will try to reconstruct the historical context of these cleavages and explain the reasons of their persistence.

In my paper, I intend to present the main actors of Serbian public life (the so-called “First” and “Second” Serbia) and their institutionalized forms (representatives), i.e. political parties. By applying the institutional theory (discursive institutionalism) I will try to prove that the basic factor which preserves and strengthens symbolic political cleavages in Serbia is the state institutions. On the one hand the actors involved in the public discourse legitimize existing political cleavages, on the other they are influenced by functioning institutions (feedback relation).

Research sources which will be analyzed are press articles, scientific publications, official state documents (trade and political agreements) and the programs of political parties.