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Russia: Raising a Red Flag About Imperial Overreach

Russian President Vladimir Putin meeting with the heads of Russia’s major religious institutions on National Unity Day. Some experts in Russia are cautioning that the Kremlin’s unwillingness to address problems connected with the country’s imperial features, including their religious, ethnic and cultural aspects, is starting to pose a risk to the state’s territorial integrity. (Photo: Russian Presidential Press Service)

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Some experts in Russia are cautioning that the Kremlin’s unwillingness to address problems connected with the country’s imperial features is starting to pose a risk to the state’s territorial integrity.
 
Time and again in Russian history, a major economic crisis has assumed a geographic dimension. This happens because of Russia’s multiethnic identity, as well as because of the specific organization of the state’s structure. The political system has tended to be overcentralized and, thus, when it comes under economic stress, it has proven brittle. In bad times, when the Kremlin cannot simply buy loyalty, the regions have become restive. This phenomenon led to tumult in 1917 and 1991, and now a Moscow-based think-tank is finding evidence that a similar pattern is developing.
 
In late January, the Institute of National Strategy (INS) released a collection of papers under the title Disunited Russia: Reports on Ethnopolitics. The collection found some alarming socio-political trends.
 

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Igor Torbakov is Senior Fellow at Uppsala University and at Södertörn University, Stockholm, Sweden.

Russia: Raising a Red Flag About Imperial Overreach

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