Kalmykia is one very obscure part of Russia. Not precisely Russian equivalent of North Korea, but close. Kirsan has been in power ever since the Soviet Union collapsed. It's one of the least economically developed areas - although its conditions are pretty close to those Tatarstan, Buryatia, Bashkortostan, Yakutia etc, its at the lowest end of the scope - even Altay and Tuva are far more prosperous.The Russian Jotman reader suggests that whereas Kalmykia is remote economically, politically it would appear more familiar to the West than some other Russian republics:
But all these lands (even Kalmykia) will appear heaven on Earth if you look deeper at the Northern Caucasus region: Chechnya, Dagestan, Northern Ossetia (Alania), Ingushetia, Karachaev-Cherkes republic (KCR) etc. Concentration of corrpution, nepotism and violent crime is striking even by Russian standards. A few days ago, two local branches of major political parties in Dagestan (both supported from Kremlin) were shooting at each other. Some time ago, in KCR inlaws of the local president murdered six people at once. . .