“Elista Is Our City”: Kalmykia’s 2019 Protests and Politics in Russia’s Republics

In: Caucasus Survey
Edward C. Holland Assistant Professor, Department of Geosciences, University of Arkansas Fayetteville, AR USA

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Russia’s republics – 22 regions in the larger federation that are territorially defined and represent areas where non-Russian ethnic populations are concentrated – have been generally quiescent during the two decades of Vladimir Putin’s leadership. However, in 2019 Kalmykia was the site of protests against leadership changes in which locals had scant political voice. This paper focuses on the demonstrations in Kalmykia and provides a detailed account of the associated causes, motivations, and outcomes. The protests augur an increased awareness of the double marginalization of Russia’s minority groups, both politically and on the basis of nationality, in the country’s governance. This condition has notable implications given Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.

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