hidden europe 34

The Russian Federation

by hidden europe


Kalmykia is the only political unit in Europe where Buddhism is the dominant religion. You think we jest! But it is true. We take a look at some of the lesser known republics within the European part of the Russian Federation.

This issue of hidden europe highlights an aspect of the complex political arrangements of the Russian Federation that is often misunderstood in the west. We saw earlier in this issue how the rural territory due north of the city of St Petersburg, bordering Finland, is called the Republic of Karelia. And then we visited the Republic of Tatarstan.

As part of its post-Soviet inheritance, the Russian Federation has struggled with the twin issues of regionalism and ethnicity, trying to allow space, as the Soviet Union did, for regional expressions of ethnicity, ethno-confessional identity and cultural difference. For 21 specific areas with distinct ethnic minorities, Moscow offers varying degrees of autonomy. These 21 republics are together home to just over 20 per cent of the population of the Russian Federation.

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one flag: blue background with twelve stars. It flutters above buildings in over forty European capitals. hidden europe looks at the Council of Europe flag.

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The Curzon Line, which for so long marked the approximate western border of the Soviet Union is named after Lord Curzon. His Lordship has strong ideas on borders, seeing them very much as zones of demarcation. But ideas have changed since Curzon's day. Across much of Europe, they have become invitations for communities on either side to collaborate.

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World Cup year! Again! We shall be eagerly following the 2010 Viva World Cup as teams from Padania, Gozo, Lapland, Monaco and other small territories compete for football supremacy.