Staunton, July 27 – Vladimir Putin’s stalled program of reducing the number of federation subject by amalgamating smaller non-Russian regions with larger and predominantly ethnic Russian ones, a program many had expected to take off again now that the Kremlin has refused to extend that power-sharing agreement with Tatarstan, is instead facing new challenges.
Taymyr activists have again demanded the authorities agree to a referendum on whether the Dolgan-Nenets district should be part of Krasnoyarsk kray. And Evenk representatives have asked Russia’s Constitutional Court to rule on the federal law that ended their separate status (nazaccent.ru/content/24861-tajmyrskie-aktivisty-snova-potrebovali-otdeleniya-ot.html).
Some members of these numerically small groups in the Russian North have been raising these issues again and again since Putin forced through their amalgamation in 2005. They argue that they have lost not only status but economic benefits and access to key institutions, most if not all of which have been shifted from nearby to the distant kray capital.
Neither action is likely to succeed. Moscow has turned down the Taymyr activists’ requests for a new referendum twice before; and the Russian Constitutional Court shows no willingness to rule against the Kremlin. But these moves, which are unlikely to get much attention, nonetheless signal that any moves against ethnic territories now will spark conflict.