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Two republics in the Russian Federation. Both predominantly Muslim. Both seeking to secure maximum autonomy from Moscow. Each using dramatically different tactics.

Tatarstan's leaders have focused on formal institutions. They have opened consulates abroad. They're determined to keep the title of president for the republic's leader. And they are equally determined to defend Tatar language and culture.

Chechnya, under its eccentric strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov, has shown absolute fealty to Moscow on formal matters. But in practice, Kadyrov has carved out a de facto statelet in the North Caucasus.

He's threatened to have his security forces shoot Russian officers operating in his fiefdom without his permission. He's implicitly endorsed bigamy. And he's essentially privatized the regional branches of the FSB and Interior Ministry.

On the latest Power Vertical Podcast, we discuss Grozny's and Kazan's approaches, Moscow's respective reaction to them, and what this tells us about Russia today.

Joining me are co-host Mark Galeotti, a professor at New York University, an expert on Russia's security services, and author of the recently published book Russia's Wars In Chechnya; and Rim Gilfanov, director of RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service.


Listen to or download the podcast above or subscribe to "The Power Vertical Podcast" on iTunes.​

About This Blog

The Power Vertical
The Power Vertical

The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It offers Brian's personal take on emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or


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