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The Daily Vertical: One-Way Sovereignty (Transcript)

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

So what exactly is sovereignty and what exactly constitutes a violation of it?

It's a question that is apparently high on the agenda in the Federation Council in the aftermath of the doping scandal that got Russia banned from the Winter Olympics and amid the prospect of new Western sanctions against Vladimir Putin's regime.

According to a report in RBK, the upper house of Russia's parliament is considering legislation that would precisely define Russia's sovereignty and criminalize violations against it.

RBK quoted lawmakers working on the bill as saying that sovereignty means the absolute power of the state inside Russian territory -- and any attempt to limit or influence that absolute power is illegal.

Federation Council deputy Lyudmila Bokova, who is co-sponsoring the legislation, says Russia needs a "mirror-like response" to foreign violations of Russian sovereignty.

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The mirror, however, appears a bit distorted.

Kremlin officials, for example, have called things like international investigations into illegal Russian doping, Western sanctions against Russian officials, and Western media publishing reports critical of Moscow as violations of Russian sovereignty.

But the Putin regime clearly doesn't seem to think Russia's annexation of Crimea and intervention in the Donbas as a violation of Ukraine's sovereignty.

And it doesn't appear to have a problem with its own de facto occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia and Transdniester in Moldova.

For the Kremlin, sovereignty appears to be a one-way street.

Russia's is considered absolute and even extends well beyond its borders.

Everybody else's, especially that of Russia's neighbors, is limited, conditional, and negotiable.

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