--- - |2 Abstract Ethnic minority nationalism has always been one of the most important subfields of nationalism studies, yet it lacks the consideration in illiberal settings. Limitations of civil liberties and restrictive legislation have undoubtedly affected the existence and the ways to express minority nationalism when it is considered a threat to authoritarian government, which is the case of the contemporary Russian Federation. The paper provides a methodological framework that helps to investigate ethnic minority nationalism when its direct articulation is restricted. It argues that the combination of a cultural nationalism approach and complexity theory can be a fruitful way to explore minority nationalism in an illiberal nationalising state using the case of Russian ethnic minorities. It also argues that the complex context of authoritarianism and market economy creates tipping points towards the growing importance of ethnic minority identification as a basis for social solidarity. - Nations and Nationalism, Volume 24, Issue 3, Page 624-647, July 2018.