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Yakutsk, Autonomous Region of Yakutia. The obligatory city-center statue of Lenin casts a shadow on the wall of the Regional Administration building in downtown Yakutsk. Yakutsk is the capital of Yakutia, a small piece of Central Siberia that is the size of all of Western Europe. A rough frontier town that has grown to over a million inhabitants, the city gained international prominence when Yakutia threatened to become the independent Republic of Sakha and declare independence from Moscow, seven time zones to the west. This caused an international uproar particularly because the region produces 20% of the world's diamonds, and independence would threaten the long-standing DeBeers contract to purchase them from Russia. Following threats, Sakha was granted certain freedoms as an Autonomous Region of Russia, but remained part of Russia.