Interethnic tension and exit claims threaten to become the main problem facing the Federation of Russia, as well as the Newly Independent States. It is well known that in the 1990s Russia, and the post-Soviet space in general, has played host to various forms of tension and open conflict of an ethnic character. As documented by several authors (e.g. Codagnone 1997; Khazanov 1995; Kremenyuk 1994; Olcott et al. 1997; Tishkov 1997) these have ranged from grassroots interethnic clashes and pogroms (as in 1990 in the Ferghana and Osh regions of, respectively Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan) up to outright attempted secession with armed conflict as in Chechnya (Russia), Abkhazia (Georgia) and Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan), with countless instances of contentious issues remaining at the level of political disputes and/or social antagonism somewhere in between these two types of violent conflicts. The dissolution of the Soviet Union has led to a large-scale redefinition and creation of ‘boundaries' ‐ here defined in their widest possible concrete and metaphorical sense, that is to include state borders and intra-state administrative ones, the delimitation of citizenship, and the strengthening of the Soviet created cleavage between ‘titular' and non-'titular' nationalities. This means that various instances of conflict/tensions can be identified within all the three clusters of entry (i.e. ethnic Russians' struggle for citizenship in Estonia and Latvia); equity (i.e. demand for cultural rights and more equitable integration by ethnic Germans in some Russian regions); and exit (the countless instances of separatism). This article focuses on the ethnic tension and conflict present in the Russian case by first developing an overview of broadly-defined interethnic tensions. This is followed by a more specific focus on the separatism of the ‘national' republics of Russia.

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