Staunton, April 5 – One of the developments in the Russian Federation which worried Moscow as a forerunner of disintegration was the spread of regional protectionism within the country, in which this or that regional government subsidized its own products to make them more attractive to buyers elsewhere and restricted by various means the import of products from other regions.
Beginning from his first day as president, Vladimir Putin made the elimination of such practices a major focus of his rule; and within a few years, he and his regime had almost completely succeeded in overcoming regional protectionism in the name of forming “a common legal space” for the country as a whole.
But now regional protectionism is making a comeback, and at a session of the State Council earlier this week, Putin denounced the reappearance of protectionism in some regions and said that it was “absolutely impermissible” given that any “local producer is a Russian one” (vedomosti.ru/business/news/2018/04/05/755939-putin-potreboval-otkazatsya).
Programs designed to support local producers now exist again in many regions, the Politsoviet news agency reports, “including in Sverdlovsk Oblast” where the authorities have subsidized the production of agricultural equipment and sponsored a “buy local” campaign (politsovet.ru/58580-putin-zapretil-gubernatoram-podderzhivat-mestnyh-proizvoditeley.html).
That something the Kremlin leader had declared victory over a decade ago is now back shows the creativity of officials, especially when as now they are hard pressed by central taxation policies and an economy in crisis which leaves them with ever fewer resources to meet the unfunded liabilities the Kremlin has imposed on them.