Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church have increasingly invoked Czar Nicholas II, murdered in 1918, as part of a broader strategy to claim political legitimacy. But that epoch may hold warnings for Putin.
Autocratic President Islam Karimov has ruled Uzbekistan for more than two decades. But public reports he has suffered a debilitating illness raise the possibility of a succession battle, complicated by Uzbekistan's own Islamist insurgency.
Tatarstan has had a problem with Islamic extremism. But the Russian republic has avoided the violence that consumed Chechnya, by both resisting Wahabbism and promoting its own native Muslim traditions.
The sudden retirement of Sergei Ivanov, a longtime ally of Putin's, is just one of many recent changes in Russia's government, which seem to be aimed at bringing in younger Putin loyalists with new ideas.
Easing tensions between Ankara and Moscow would seem to benefit both Mr. Erdoğan and Mr. Putin. But Turkey also presents a complicating factor to the Kremlin in its dealings with Turkic peoples at home and abroad.
Runaway housing developments have been going up around Moscow, threatening the 'lungs' of the city – the ring forest around the capital. But locals have been fighting back against the project – with success.
Russia's national team is on probation after a few hundred of its supporters attacked English fans in Marseille, raising concerns about Russia's hosting of the 2018 World Cup. Some fan groups have connections to ultra-nationalist political forces.
Turkey, Egypt, and other favorite vacation spots are out of reach these days for Russians. But the north coast of the Black Sea, spanning from Crimea to Sochi to Abkhazia, offers an affordable alternative.
The statelet, which the world doesn't recognize, has retained its de facto independence from Georgia for years, thanks in large part to Russia's patronage. But many Abkhazians worry about being smothered.