whose number is increasing.
The way this is being done, Shlosberg says, is especially disturbing: “First the deputies are called in and warned how to vote. They vote ‘as required,’ and they then in their majority hand over their mandates … They and the residents of the settlements are thus broken on the wheel. We have almost no decisions taken by assembles of citizens or public hearings.”
Olga Molyarenko, a Moscow specialist on local administration, says that “unfortunately, this is a nearly universal practice.” And she notes that officials and people in many areas are now referring to the new system as demokratura, that is, a combination of democracy for show but dictatorship in practice.
She adds that “all this is leading to the further withering away of villages and the formation of urban conglomerations.” Without local governments and local budgets to hold them in the villages, people there will have no choice but to flee to the cities, leaving the countryside vacant and threatening further demographic and democratic decline.