More Russian cracks

Hey, remember this?

Well, there seem to be some more cracks opening -- tentatively -- in the regions:
"This is a restrained and very tentative demonstration by Rakhimov of his displeasure with the policy of strengthening the influence of the federal centre which has been pursued of late. As one knows, Rakhimov is one of the political elders who belongs to the first generation of governors," Orlov said.

According to the political expert, in the past decade the federal centre has been sharply limiting the "pseudo-sovereignty of big and economically important regions which the latter tried to acquire in the 1990s". "To some extent this applies to Bashkortostan too," Orlov said.

However, don't get too hopeful that this will mean some kind of greater Western-style federalism. It's really just a tussle over whether a local mob boss will continue in control of his territory, or whether the Federal government will take a greater hand:
"I don't think Rakhimov's criticism is directed at improving the effectiveness of federal officials' performance on the ground. It is an attempt to limit their opportunities in favour of the regional authorities," Orlov said.