All around the world the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the relationship balance between countries’ central authorities and peripheral regions. In the US as in Italy, fierce contradictions have been witnessed between regional and national authorities pertaining to the implementation of emergency measures, the shift to the so-called “phase 2” and economic recovery efforts.
The 2020 coronavirus pandemic has already changed both foreign and internal relations all over the world, and the Russian Far East with its long Russo-Chinese border area is no exception.
The issue of centre-periphery relations in the Russian Federation has always featured prominently in Moscow’s political debates. And these debates are heating up during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Not only does Russia have the vastest territory in the world but it also boasts of an extraordinary ethnic, cultural and religious diversity to the extent that it has sometimes faced secessionist and centrifugal movements.
March 18, 2020, marked six years from the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. This year, the so-called “reunification” was celebrated without mass gatherings but still in the presence of President Vladimir Putin himself, despite the pandemic. The celebration had particular symbolic value for Putin who had announced his intention to remain in power until 2036 pending approval in a nationwide referendum (currently postponed due to COVID-19).
In one of our OSW reports, we called the Kaliningrad region a ‘captive island’, referring to its geographical and partly mental separation from the rest of Russia, combined with the tight control Moscow exercises over its political, economic and security spheres. In the distant 1990s, a time of regional autonomies, Kaliningrad enjoyed a considerable amount of self-governance.
The North Caucasus is the most ethnically diverse and restive region of the Russian Federation. Administratively it is organized into seven autonomous republics with varying degrees of ethnic heterogeneity and proneness to violence. Moscow waged two wars against separatist Chechnya in the two decades and eventually succeeded to secure control over the territory by installing and supporting a local strongman, Ramzan Kadyrov, as the ruler of the republic.
Despite its immense extension, Russia is usually considered a homogeneous and highly centralized country. In the light of history, this idea appears only partially correct, especially as far as homogeneity is concerned. Indeed, the Russian Empire was a country of astonishing ethnic and cultural complexity, which, in addition to ethnic Russians – who did not reach half of the total population – included hundreds of peoples very different in language, religion, and economic and cultural development.
Dopo il tampone positivo del primo ministro Mikhail Mishustin, un altro membro della cerchia interna di Vladimir Putin ha contratto il virus: il portavoce del Cremlino Dmitry Peskov. Nonostante Peskov affermi di non aver avuto contatti con Putin, restano i dubbi sulla salute del presidente, così come sulla tenuta economica della Russia.
On 2 May 2020, Kazakh President Kassim-Jomart Tokayev announced through a post on the presidential website the removal of Dariga Nazarbayeva from her position as chair of the country’s senate.