Ever since the fiercely purposeful and clear-headed Vladimir Putin took over from the sodden Boris Yeltsin, many Russian nationalists and Red nostalgists outside Russia’s borders can look again to Moscow for leadership and inspiration. These newly energized forces see the still unconsummated Russia-Belarus Union (RBU) as a vehicle to transform the slovenly Commonwealth of Independent States into an approximation of the old Russian Empire or the USSR, a Moscow-based great power with a vast, protected internal market. Joining the RBU is a political issue in several states of the former Soviet Union: