In 19th-century Russia, Westernizers were predominantly intellectuals who emphasized Russia’s common historic and cultural identity with the West, as opposed to Slavophiles, who believed that Russia’s traditions and destiny were unique. The term derives from the Russian word zapadnik, which signifies someone associated with the West. Westernizers maintained that Russia depended upon the adoption of Western European technology and liberal government. The debates between Westernizers and Slavophiles were represented in the Russian 19th-century literature, most notably in Ivan Turgenev’s novels. In contemporary usage, the term refers to supporters of Western-style economic development, particularly Boris Yeltsin’s earliest appointees in the Russian government such as Yegor Gaydar. In the 1990s, the Westernizers grew increasingly unpopular among the Russian masses, who gravitated toward ultranationalists like Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Soviet nostalgia, or neo-Eurasianism, is an ideology that has much in common with Slavophilism. Vladimir Putin’s rise to power and subsequent popularity destroyed the Westernizers as a potent force in the country.
   See also Atlanticism.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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