Staunton, May 12 – The Putin system is becoming ever weaker, Pavel Luzin says, prompting the Kremlin to further centralize decision making and budgetary control, something that creates a vicious circle from which the Russian Federation has ever fewer chances of escaping and moving toward greater economic growth and political stability at all levels.
The basis for this trend, the Perm-based analyst say, was laid in 2003 when Moscow adopted its law on local self-administration, a law that it immediately began to gut by transferring ever more decision making from localities to the regions and from the regions to the center (region.expert/zemstva/).
This has meant that ever more decisions are passed up the line, requiring governors to rule on things that should be handled locally and Moscow on others that could best be handled by the regions, leading to a breakdown in the ability of officials at all levels to do their jobs, slowing down of decision making and implementation, and causing ever more people to blame the center.
Centralization gives Moscow the sense that it is in control of everything, Luzin says; but that is based on the false assumption that having the power to rule on everything means that it is actually in control. Instead, ever more things simply aren’t done at all, leading to ever more problems even as Moscow assumes that it really is in charge.
Luzin documents the way this works in budgetary terms, in the drawing of administrative districts, and in the location of actual decisions on various issues; but it is his over all control that as the system weakens, the centralization of power is increasing that is the most important of his insights.
That is because centralization gives Moscow the sense that it is in charge without allowing it to appreciate that it in fact is capable of being in real charge of ever more issues and that the economy and the political system are rapidly suffering as a result. The population can see this even if the Kremlin can’t.