Staunton, December 26 – Vladimir Putin justifies the Russian tax system by suggesting that it allows the center to redistribute money from the more prosperous regions to the poorer ones, but in fact, Natalya Zubarevich says, that isn’t what is happening. Instead, she says, Moscow is extracting money from the wealthier regions to pay for its own military ambitions.
That reality, Valery Dzutsati of Radio Liberty says, is sparking a new round of discussions about federalism and the need for genuine fiscal federalism if Russia is to escape from its current economic and social problems (kavkazr.com/a/mnogoobrazie-kak-preimushestvo/28937886.html).
That is all the more so, he argues, because some like LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky have renewed their calls for the liquidation of the entire federal system and because others are alarmed at Putin’s attacks on non-Russian languages which many view as the most important right they still have.
Increasingly, political commentators are discussing the problems of federalism not so much with economic issues as with political arrangements and suggesting that the diversity of the country is a source of strength rather than weakness and that, as Zubarevich notes, there is no reason to think Moscow will promote inter-regional equality.
Among those talking about these things now is Aleksandr Kynyev of the Civic Initiatives Committee who says that one of the most worrisome signs in Russian federalism is “the growing de-professionalization of regional parliaments.” The only one in the North Caucasus that is still worthy of that name is in Chechnya.
In the other non-Russian republics of that region, he says, “deputies work primarily on an unprofessional basis, something that lowers the quality of the laws they adopt and undermines the foundations of federalism.”
And opposition politician Vladimir Ryzhkov warns that “’the third reincarnation of the empire’” will only increase the seriousness of the country’s nationality question. “The next revolution in Russia,” he says, “will have a [pronounced] nationality component,” whatever people think now.
“Only the federal model is able of saving us from a repetition for the third time of the scenario of the disintegration of the empire,” Ryzhkov says.