Friday, November 6, 2020

‘De Facto, All North Caucasus Republics Have Long Been Under Direct External Rule,’ Markelov Says

 Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 4 – Despite warnings that many federal subjects were underwater financially, many Russians were shocked this week when Moscow declared the Republic of Ingushetia bankrupt and put its financial operations under direct control from the center (

            But they shouldn’t have been, and they should not be surprised that more non-Russian republics there and elsewhere are about to suffer the same fate, Vladimir Klimanov of the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service says, although he is doubtful that direct rule will solve the problems (

            Among the republics in line for such treatment, he suggests are Daghestan, Chechnya, Karachayevo-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, the Altay Republic, Tyva and Mordvinia. Not all may be put under direct rule at least immediately, but it is certainly significant that all are non-Russian units and now those running things will be ethnic Russians in Moscow.

            Political technologist Sergey Markelov says that this change may be less than it appears. “De facto, all the republics in the Caucasus have been under such external administration” for some time because of enormous deficits and massive subsidies from the center which has insisted on a greater voice (

            Up to now, the republic heads have extracted money from the center on the principle that unless such funds are forthcoming, they will not be able to keep the situation under control. But now money is running out in Moscow, and the center has had to adopt a new approach to try to keep things quiet.

            In many respects, Markelov argues, Moscow’s latest action is a response to the extortion the North Caucasus republic heads have engaged in with the center. Not only is Moscow now going to take more explicit and public control, but it is likely to impose new outside leaders who will not be likely to try to get money the way their predecessors did.

            However, that raises the question: Will the North Caucasus become destabilized, possibly with the connivance of leaders playing for broke to keep Moscow money and their jobs or will Moscow decide on an even more heavy-handed approach of using direct police and military power rather than trying to keep things peaceful with political arrangements?

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