Category Archives: disintegration

Russia’s Siberia becomes a Desert

The Dallas-Forth Worth Tribune reports:

Picture a town inaccessible by road, buried under ice and snow for eight months of the year, unable to support a movie theater and without enough cars to warrant a traffic light or even a stop sign.

Chersky is the definition of isolation — or, in Stalinist terms, exile. This forbidding area of northeastern Siberia, where winter temperatures commonly sink to about -50 Celsius, (about -60 F) was once part of the Gulag, the network of prisons for the Kremlin’s enemies.

The town has shed more than half its population of 12,000 in the hard times that followed the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. Many of those remaining say they also would leave if they could.

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Russians don’t Emigrate because they Fear being Required to Obey the Law

Paul Goble reports that, in contrast to the poll data we discuss in our led editorial, the Kremlin’s own polls show nobody wants to leave Russia.  But Goble thinks he knows one reason why at least some Russians want to stay:  They know they’d be required to obey the law if they lived in a civilized country.

In addition to all the normal constraints – inertia, language knowledge, and uncertainty about other places – Russians today choose not to leave their country for work abroad because they consider it “abnormal to live according to the letter and spirit of the law” as Western countries require, according to VTsIOM director Valery Fedorov.

Speaking to a Novosibirsk forum “Strategy 2020″, Fedorov, the general director of the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion, said that Russians at the present time “rarely consider emigration abroad as a key to the resolution of their personal problems.”

According to his organization’s data, the VTsIOM pollster said, far fewer Russians are interested in moving abroad than “20, 15 or even 10 years ago.” Even those who are having problems “where they were born and grew up,” he continued, have many reasons for deciding against such a step.

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EDITORIAL: Russia, buy one Get one Free!

EDITORIAL

Russia, buy one Get one Free!

Russia is on sale. Act now, shoppers, these deals won’t last!

For the first time since the economic collapse of the 1990s, Russia is placing massive chunks of state assets — even assets which just months ago the Kremlin was proclaiming “strategic,” on the auction block at bargain-basement prices.

Why? The answer is simple:  The Kremlin is running a massive budget deficit, speedily approaching $100 billion, and it has no other ready source of cash.

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Russia is not a Country

Paul Goble reports:

What people call the state in Russia is not “a system of public institutions” as the state is in Western countrie but rather “a mechanism for the enrichment of the powers that be who control the excessively privatized substance called only by mistake is called the Russian Federation,” according to a leading Moscow political scientist.

In an interview posted on Kasparov.ru, Tatyana Vorozheykina, who teaches at the Moscow Higher School of Social and Economic Sciences, argues that the Russian state at the present time is “in fact a private corporation for the servicing of the private interests of a narrow group of people.” And what is more, Vorozheykina says, “everyone knows these people. They come from one city, from one agency, from one dacha cooperative” – an obvious reference to the St. Petersburg mafia of Vladimir Putin. “And the essential quality of this arrangement of power is one involving the translation of orders, ideas and opinions from the top to the bottom.”

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Putvedev and its Core Instability

Brian Whitmore, writing on the Power Vertical and translating from Novaya Gazeta:

The turbulence currently rattling Russia’s body politic resembles that which existed in the early perestroika period. There is a consensus that there is a need for change, the elite has split into two opposing camps unable to agree over what needs to be done, and neither side can garner a critical mass of support for their agenda.

That is the central argument of political analyst Kirill Rogov in an interesting piece in “Novaya gazeta.” Rogov argues that the agendas of President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin “are fully formed and divergent” but neither of them is making a compelling case.

Here’s the money quote:

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EDITORIAL: Secession in Kaliningrad and Vladivostok?

EDITORIAL

Secession in Kaliningrad and Vladivostok?

The indispensable Paul Goble reports that the residents of Kaliningrad, Russia are thinking thoughts of secession these days.

Kaliningrad presents a really fascinating paradox.  Compared to most regions of Russia, the residents of Kalingrad are rich. But compared to their neighbors Poland and Lithuania (the Kaliningrad region is not contiguous to Russia), they are dirt poor, as are the vast majority of all Russians.  And Kaliningraders don’t compare themselves to their remote and slovenly Russian brothers, but to their neighbors, so they’re hopping mad that the Kremlin has bungled their governance so badly and they are taking to the streets to make their displeasure very plain indeed.

According to Vladimir Pribylovsky, president of the Panorama Information and Research Center:  “It is perfectly obvious why: the governor is bad and the Kremlin runs our affairs badly as well.  The Kaliningraders want to live just like the Poles do.”

And, because of their proximity to the West and their isolation from Russia, it turns out that Kaliningraders are willing to stand up to the Putin regime in brazen acts of defiance that have rocked the Kremlin to its core.

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Goodbye, Karelia! Warm wishes!

Paul Goble reports:

The FSB has opened a criminal case against Karelians who have distributed leaflets calling for their land to be re-attached to Finland, a campaign Russian security services say reflects shortcomings in anti-extremist efforts but one others in that northern region argue is the result of the failure of officials to keep the heat on in local buildings. At the end of last week, German Shtadler, the head of the Karelian procuracy, announced that the FSB had brought the case after some unknown group distributed leaflets in the Sortavalsk district calling on people there to push for a referendum on transferring their district from Russia to Finland.

No one has yet been arrested – although the local media suggested that the Finnish organization Pro Karelia which seeks the return of territory seized by Stalin after the Winter War — but once someone is, Shtadler said, he or she will be charged under Article 280 of the Russian criminal code which sets punishments for those who call for carrying out extremist actions. According to the prosecutor, Karelia “in recent times” has become a favorable breeding ground for “extremist manifestations,” with some of them rooted in ethnic clashes with Gastarbeiters from the North Caucasus as in Kondopoga and Kuitezha and others the reflection of the efforts to union leaders to press for higher wages and better working conditions.

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Moscow vs. Russia

Paul Goble reports:

Moscow and Russia’s regions are now on a collision course, one in which the regions, in many cases devastated by the economic crisis, need more resources and authority to cope, are confronted by a central government which is further tightening control over revenues even as it holds regional leaders responsible for solving problems in their areas.

Most commentators on the situation in Russia have focused either on the problems of individual company towns – the so-called Pikalevo problem – or on the economic situation in the country as a whole. But statistics published by Russian state statistics administration yesterday highlight just how differently the economic crisis has hit different regions.

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The Great Russian Selloff

Daddy Putin is selling off the furniture to keep the family out of the poorhouse. The Moscow Times reports:

The government plans to raise 70 billion rubles ($2.34 billion) next year by selling stakes in more than 450 companies, Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina said Tuesday.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin reiterated his support for the major sell-off of government property, saying the efforts would help fill the federal budget.

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When will Siberia Secede from Russia?

Paul Goble reports:

Just as the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident convinced many Ukrainians that they did not want to remain part of the Soviet Union, so too, despite all the differences in the extent of the disaster, the Sayan-Shushen dam accident is leading many Siberians to conclude the same thing about remaining part of the Russian Federation. In the current issue of  Novaya Gazeta, journalist Aleksey Tarasov says that in the wake of the August 17 dam disaster, “Siberia is changing” in large measure because “the cheap electric energy” which the dam provided in “compensation” to that region for all that Moscow has taken from it is now a thing of the past.

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Sakhalin wants Out of Putin’s Russia!

Paul Goble reports:

A group of Sakhalin residents, after a visit to Tokyo, are not only studying Japanese but also collecting signatures on a petition asking that Moscow hand over their island to Japan so that they can live and raise their children in a rich, modern country that is not fighting a war with anyone else.

This remarkable action surfaced today when radical Moscow commentator Valeriya Novodvorskaya reported in her Grani.ru column that one of the organizers, who she indicated had to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, had approached her to ask to whom he should forward their appeal.

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EDITORIAL: Disintegrating Russia

EDITORIAL

Disintegrating Russia

Today we offer a wealth of material showing how Russia is coming apart at the seams.  To start off, two recent reports from the Russian press, relayed to us by the indispensable Paul Goble, indicate the Russia is cracking and crumbling at its very foundations.

First, Goble reports how the Kremlin’s totally failed policy in the Caucasus is threatening wider social instability; then, as if to emphasize the first point, he reports on how Russians across the country are stocking up on guns.

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Kasyanov Speaks

Reuters reports that former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov is warning that Russia stands on the brink of collapse:

Russia could face economic chaos and even revolution unless the government acts swiftly to reform and relax political restrictions, former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said on Thursday. Kasyanov, who now leads an opposition party, told a seminar in Brussels that by the end of this year inflation could reach 15 percent, toxic loans could rise to 30 percent of all loans and unemployment could reach 10 million. The government may also have to seek help from the International Monetary Fund “in the near future,” he said.

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Part I: Putin’s Russia is Collapsing

Dmitri Oreshkin, independent political analyst, writing in the Moscow Times:

For most countries of the world, the global crisis is strictly economic. But Russia is experiencing two crises simultaneously — economic and political.

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Part II: Putin’s Russia is Collapsing

Alexei Bayer, independent Russian economics analyst based in New York, writing in the Moscow Times:

In the mid-1960s, there were pundits on both sides of the Iron Curtain who predicted that the Soviet and U.S. systems would eventually become identical. The Soviet Union was then in a relatively liberal phase, whereas the United States, with President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society program full speed ahead, seemed to be moving toward social democracy.

By the 1970s, such talk ceased when the Kremlin tightened the ideological reins. But economic similarities did emerge in one aspect: The formidable U.S. economy, stifled by government intervention and overly bureaucratic corporations, began to stagnate almost as badly as its Soviet counterpart. The 1980s then became a period of renewal for both countries, even though the responses — and results — were very different, underscoring the contrast between the two political systems.

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The Revolution starts in Tuva?

Paul Goble reports:

The Republic of Tuva is calling on Moscow to eliminate a key element of Vladimir Putin’s power vertical: the power of the central government to appoint representatives of Moscow bureaucracies in the regions without reference to the views of the governments of the country’s republics and regions.

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Russia: No Longer a Nation

Russian economist Alexei Bayer, writing in the Moscow Times:

With the rest of the world worried about the economic crisis, the news of yet another politically tinged crime in Moscow gets little more than a shrug. It draws the same response in Russia, even though the killing of human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova last month provided a glimpse into a murky, Byzantine abyss lying just beyond the country’s facade. It’s a frightening sight in normal times but especially so in a worsening economic climate.

The crimes themselves — and the usual ho-hum reaction to them — testify to the absence of even a rudimentary civil society. Russia is a country of inhabitants, not citizens. Citizens have a stake in their political entity, and murders like these target the very foundations of a nation. This is an occasion on which citizens of all political persuasions would have found a way to make their voices heard. Instead, Russia’s inhabitants go down into the streets to protest higher duties on foreign cars.

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Russians Gird for Civil War

In a three-part report, the indispensable Paul Goble informs us that as Russian unemployment reaches the “magic” figure of 10% that bodes ill for civil unrest, Russians are arming themselves to the teeth and talking secession and disintegration:

Frightened by the instability the current economic crisis is creating and by the possibility that the powers that be may lose control of the situation, Russians are choosing to arm themselves in unprecedented numbers, with more than one Russian in ten – some 13 million people — across the country now having a lethal weapon in their possession. Those figures, which are included in the “Small Arms Survey-2007” that was prepared by the Geneva Graduate Institute of International Studies a year ago, are far higher than Russian officials acknowledge but almost certainly are lower than at the present time, according to an online news agency report today.

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Putin on the Brink

From the London Review of Books, an account of Putin teetering on the brink of Soviet-style collapse:

The financial crisis – or, as we like to call it here, ‘the effects of the American and European financial crisis on Russia’ – has taken a little while to get going, but it’s going now. Yesterday my grandmother sat me down for a serious conversation: she wanted to know if she should take her rouble-denominated life savings out of the Sberbank and put them into dollars. Everyone’s a financial adviser now. Or rather, I’m a financial adviser now. This is not good.

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Ominous Rumblings in the Russian Provinces

First the failed policies of Vladimir Putin gave rise to tumult in the country’s southern reaches, and now the north and elsewhere as the economic crisis deepens. Paul Goble reports:

For the first time in their history, the numerically small peoples of the Taymyr peninsula organized a public protest against the way in which Moscow has run roughshod over their rights in its desire to develop natural resources, a protest that is echoing across the northern third of the territory of the Russian Federation. On November 1st, members of the Dolgan, Nenets, En, Nganasan, and Evenk nationalities in the former Taymyr autonomous district assembled in zero degree Fahrenheit weather demanding that their region be given the special status it was promised when it was folded into Krasnoyarsk kray.

But it is a measure of the isolation of these groups from Moscow that word of their action reached Moscow only ten days after it took place, and it is an indication of their marginality in the eyes of Russian officialdom and even the Russian public that this event did not receive more than passing mention in all but a few opposition websites.

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Russia, Disintegrating

Vasko Kohlmayer, writing on FrontPageMag.com:

Late last month, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev made a startling admission. Speaking at a conference on social-economic development in Kamchatka, he said: “If we do not step up the level of activity of our work [in the Russian Far East], then in the final analysis we can lose everything.” What Medvedev’s words betray is the fear of Russia’s leaders that their country may not hold together.

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Medvedev, off the Reservation, Admits Russia cannot hold Far East

Paul Goble reports:

President Dmitry Medvedev says that if the Russian government does not take immediate steps, Moscow could lose the Russian Far East, a declaration that one Russian news agency called “unprecedented” and at the very least suggests Russia faces far more serious problems there than the Kremlin has acknowledged up to now.

Speaking to a conference on social-economic development in Kamchatka kray, Medvedev said that “if we do not step up the level of activity of our work [in the Russian Far East], then in the final analysis we can lose everything,” with that region becoming a source of raw materials for Asian countries. The consequences of further inaction, the Russian president said, could come not only quite quickly but “end in an extremely dramatic way” much as the Soviet Union did 17 years ago. And consequently, he called on the Russian government to “take administrative decisions” and not to get tied up with “other problems.

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Siberia, Shrinking

In a sign of Siberia’s ever-worsening population crisis, regions are now being forced to consolidate in order to maintain a viable polity. RIA Novosti reports:

A new constituent member of the Russian Federation, the enlarged Irkutsk Region, came into existence on January 1, following the merger of two Siberian regions. Urged by the necessity to solve local social and economic tasks and improve living standards in East Siberia, legislators in the energy-rich Irkutsk Region and the largely agrarian Ust-Ordyn Buryat Autonomous Area submitted a merger proposal to the Russian president in October 2005. The idea was approved by the majority of votes at a referendum in April 2006. The enlarged Irkutsk Region will form its government within a year, starting from January 1, 2008. Local parliamentary elections are expected to be held October 12, 2008, and the Russian president will nominate a new governor within 35 days after the elections. Russian President Vladimir Putin supported the merger as part of the Kremlin’s ongoing campaign to simplify the country’s administrative-territorial divisions, and to further tighten federal control over budget spending and efficient governance in the regions.

The Sunday Apocalypse

Paul Goble says that Putin’s Russia is losing its eastern territory to Asia without the need of its colonizers to fire a shot:

The Russian Far East is “drifting away” from the rest of the country, according to an investigation carried out by Nezavisimaya Gazeta – Regiony, and the Kremlin’s much-ballyhooed program intended to reverse that process may in fact be making it worse. At present, Igor’ Naumov writes in the current issue of the Moscow Journal, only four percent of the economy of the Russian Far East is “connected” to that of the rest of Russia, with an overwhelming share – some 75 percent – tied to Pacific rim countries instead. In addition, over the past fifteen years, as the Russian Federation has moved away from state financing of government-identified projects to private enterprises whose decisions are not necessarily linked to the national interest, “the economic and humanitarian ties of the federal center” to this region “have been constantly falling.” And finally, there has been a net outmigration from this enormous Russian region of 1.7 million people during the same period, leaving it with a total population of only a few more than three million, which means that much of the Russian Far East is virtually uninhabited.

In order to counter these trends, President Vladimir Putin in January 2007 announced plans for a major investment program in the region, but so far, it has not had much impact, Naumov says, and there are even reasons to think that it may exacerbate the situation. There are three reasons for that. First, almost all of the funds that have been allocated to it have gone to the city of Vladivostok to spruce it up for regional summit meetings. That makes Russia’s largest city on the Pacific look better, but it does nothing for the interior. Second, as even Regional Development Minister Dmitriy Kozak acknowledges, the current “methodology for distribution and expenditure of budget means” in these regions is “at its roots incorrect.” As a result, what government money there may be is not going where it is most needed and could do the most good. And third – and this is likely to prove the most politically problematic for Moscow – because the center has provided too few funds for the region’s future development, leaders there have an incentive to use Chinese guestworkers rather than Russian laborers.

Moscow officials estimate that in the next several years, the Russian Far East will need at least three million additional workers, but the center’s aid package for development does not provide any money for the construction of apartments and other infrastructure that might attract and support Russians from other parts of the country. In the absence of such funds, regional leaders are planning to make use of Chinese guest workers, who, unlike Russian specialists will “agree to live in barracks and don’t need apartments and schools” for themselves and their families. And with the arrival of the Chinese, even more Russians are likely to leave. At the very least, such shifts will cause some Russian nationalists to charge that the Kremlin is “selling out” the region to overpopulated China next door. But even if those emotional charges are untrue, what Putin is doing will almost certainly lead more leaders in the Far East to look abroad rather than to Moscow to build up their homeland.

On Siberian Secession

Blogger and ace Russia scholar Paul Goble offers the following two-part overview of the Kremlin’s alienation of Russia’s eastern provinces, which now are looking to China and independence to secure their future. What a wonderful legacy that Great Leader Vladimir Putin is leaving behind him! How wise were the people of Russia to choose such brilliant visionary!

And how long before Putin must rely upon the tactics of Stalin to hold his sham nation together?

Transbaikal residents overwhelmingly identify themselves as “Siberians” regardless of their ethnicity, a new survey shows. And while most would settle for greater autonomy, a significant share says that they would welcome independence should the Russian Federation dissolve in the future. In an article provocatively titled “Will the Russian Federation Survive Until 2014?” Vitaly Kamyshev, a “Sibiryak” himself, reports that Irkutsk’s “Who’s Who” Agency determined that 80 percent of residents there identify as “Siberians” while only 12 percent say they are “Russians”. The same poll also found that approximately three Transbaikal residents out of five want greater autonomy for Siberia as a whole and that one in four – some 25 percent – are for a Siberia independent of the Russian Federation. (Unfortunately, Kamyshev does not give details on exactly when this poll was conducted or how many it queried.)

One reason for this perhaps surprising choice is the campaign by local Siberian activists to promote the ideas of 19th century “oblastniki” like Grigoiy Potanin and Nikolai Yadrintsev, who argued that Russia treated “Siberia as a colony,” and thus to gain seats for themselves in local legislatures, the last place where real electoral politics occur. But to far greater extent, this striking shift in self-identifications is an obvious reaction to three policies of President Vladimir Putin.

First, his re-centralization of power and his reduction in the size of inter-regional transfers have re-ignited long-simmering tensions between Moscow and the regions.

Second, Putin himself has unwittingly put regionalism in play by his efforts to combine existing federal units into new and larger ones, a process by which he clearly hopes to push out the ethnic dimension of Russian federalism. In Siberia and the Russian Far East, five small regions are now set to be combined with larger ones. On the one hand, that has the effect of undermining the importance of ethnicity as Putin wants, at least in some cases, but only at the cost of leading non-Russian elites to seek new accords on a regional basis with Russian ones, an effort that by itself makes regional identities more important than ethnic ones. On the other, by putting the question of the borders of regions into play again, Putin has unintentionally encouraged others especially in places far from Moscow to think about how they would redraw the political map of the Russian Federation in order to maximize their power. Elites in Khabarovsk kray, for example, having gotten approval to absorb two numerically small non-Russian areas, now talk openly about a greater Khabarovsk that would both become the largest federal unit in the country and have much greater influence in national politics.

And third, Putin has sought to downplay ethnic Russian identity as well by promoting the non-ethnic “Rossiyane” as the future civic nation the Russian president says the country must have given its ethnic divisions. That does not satisfy many ethnic Russians or many ethnic non-Russians, and regionalism may become the choice of both.

Now as in the past, Moscow has sought to limit the rise of Siberian identity by playing up what it says is the threat of Chinese colonization of the region. But that argument, Kamyshev says, may be wearing thin: Ever more people in Siberia believe they are a colony already and some think they would be better off with a different master. None of this, of course, is to say that Siberian regionalism as either an identity or a movement is strong enough to pose any immediate threat to Moscow. But it is to suggest that downplaying ethnicity as Putin has done may not translate directly and without any problems into Russian patriotism. Instead, as this Irkutsk poll suggests, many who others view as members of particular nationalities or as inevitable “Rossiyane” may decide to view themselves in regionalist terms, a development that could pose serious challenges for Russia’s development not only in 2014 but perhaps much sooner.

Although they have attracted little attention to date, residents and even officials in some predominantly Russian regions appear to be just as interested in asserting sovereignty or even seceding as are their counterparts in many of the non-Russian regions and republics of the Russian Federation. In an article appearing in this week’s “Nashe vremya,” Aleksandr Gazov argues that it is a mistake to focus only on non-Russian secessionist challenges even though he concedes that “the main moving force of any ‘liberation movement’ is membership in a particular nationality.” But there is no reason to think that one such “particular nationality” cannot be Russian, Gazov suggests, especially because the three major impulses for secession – anti-Moscow attitudes, a sense of the loss of historical status, and economic problems – can affect Russians just as much as non-Russians.

The “Nashe vremya” journalist then surveys some of what he suggests are the most intriguing examples of ethnic Russian secessionist ideas and movements before producing a ranking generated by a foreign human rights activist of the probabilities that any one of these or indeed of non-Russian challenges will succeed. In the first instance, he points to secessionist groups in Novgorod, Pskov and Bryansk. In all three cases, local officials appear to be backing local intellectuals who argue that Moscow has taken something away from them: democracy in the case of Novgorod and economic opportunities in the case of Pskov and Bryansk. Then, he considers nationalist and secessionist trends among non-Russian groups not only in the North Caucasus – the only region most Muscovites think there is any secessionist challenge at all – but also in the Middle Volga among the Tatars, Bashkirs, Komi, Mordvin, and Mari and in Siberia among the Sakha and Buryats.

Gazov also considers the interesting case of Karelia, an ethnic republic whose population is now overwhelmingly ethnic Russian rather than the titular Karels or Finns. He notes that a Petrozavodsk city deputy has called for erecting a statue of Marshal Gustav Mannerheim, the Finnish leader who fought against Soviet forces. And finally he examines three broader Russian secessionist groups: those who want to form a truly Russian republic by jettisoning all non-Russian areas within the Russian Federation, those who back a Urals Republic, and finally those who want Siberia to be an independent state.

In some of these places, Gazov says, secessionist ideas are discussed only on the Internet among small coteries of intellectuals. But in many and especially Siberia, there is evidence that increasingly powerful governors are intrigued by the idea of independence and covertly support groups who push ideas the governors themselves cannot do openly. He writes: “today’s governors are welcome guests at all kinds of international events and are already accustomed to conduct foreign policy negotiations on their own. It is thus not surprising that in their minds arises the thought about an independent Siberia, free from Moscow, the Kremlin and the entire rest of the country.” But of course, Gazov continues, even the most powerful of such governors recognize that they cannot at th epresent moment at least “speak openly about such things” but they have every reason not to prevent others from doing so – or even helping them from behind the scenes.

Another force standing behind any drive for Siberian independence is Beijing, which has long cast a covetous eye to the resources and open spaces of the country to its north, Gazov writes. And the Chinese appear to be providing some funds to get Russians to speak out in favor of this alternative. “Already today,” Gazov continues, “in Irkutsk, Omsk and Novosibirsk ever more often are heard calls for more active cooperation with China which must become the chief ally of an independent Siberia.” At the end of his article, Gazov reproduces an estimate prepared by Costa Rican human rights activist Maximiliano Herrera as to the probability that any region in Russia may secede in the long term. This list is, as Gazov notes, only one person’s opinion, but it is intriguing, and it has now been introduced to the Russian audience. Herrera, who maintains his own website and whose complete list of the likelihood of secessionist challenges around the world can be found online as well, gives the following estimates of the chances for successful secession by regions in Russia:

Adyrgeia – 15 percent
Bashkortostan – more than 20 percent
Eastern Siberia – 30 percent
Daghestan – 40 percent
Ingushetia – 35 percent
Kabardino-Balkaria –20 percent
Kaliningrad – 35 percent
Kamchatka –15 percent
Karachai-Cherkessia – 15 percent
Magadan – 15 percent
Mari El – 20 percent
Primorskiy kray – 20 percent
Sakhalin – 20 percent
North Osetia – more than 20 percent
Stavropol kray – 10 percent
Tatarstan – more than 40 percent
Tuva – 10 percent
Chechnya – 55 percent
Chukotka – 20 percent
Sakha – 20 percent

What is most intriguing about this list, of course, is that Russian regions appear as likely or even more likely than non-Russian ones to secede. That is Gazov’s point, but to date, few in Moscow or elsewhere are prepared to take that seriously or to think about reworking the country’s federal system in order to keep the country in one piece.