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The Daily Vertical: The Kremlin's Ingermanland-Phobia (Transcript)

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

The Kremlin is apparently quite worried about something called Ingermanlandia.

The Russian authorities seem pretty spooked about something called the Free Ingria Movement.

Last year, they arrested one of the movement's leaders.

Earlier this month, they blocked its website.

And this past weekend, police raided a concert the Free Ingria Movement had sponsored.

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For those who don't know, Ingermanlandia is the historic name for the territory that today comprises St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Oblast.

And the Free Ingria Movement seeks to have the two united into a single Russian region and have the historical name restored.

Seems a bit quixotic and it seems pretty much harmless.

But Vladimir Putin's regime has no time for this kind of regionalism, which it fears could eventually turn into separatism.

It's cracked down on regionalist movements in Siberia and Kaliningrad.

It has forced people like Vadim Shepta, a regionalist leader from Karelia, into exile.

And of course, last week, it allowed Tatarstan's autonomy agreement with Moscow to expire.

The reason behind all this is obvious.

Putin and his cronies are haunted by the regionalism, separatism, and parade of sovereignties that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

They're determined not to let history repeat itself.

And in doing so, they may be setting the stage for the scenario they fear most.

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