Sunday, March 15, 2015

Will Economic Crisis Spark More Border Changes in Russia?

Paul Goble


            Staunton, March 15 – Budgetary shortfalls as a result of the current economic crisis have forced Pskov Governor Andrey Turchak to change the administrative borders within his oblast, a measure that he acknowledges is “unpopular” but one that could presage other and more significant border changes elsewhere in the Russian Federation for the same reasons.


            As anyone who has lived through school consolidation or congressional redistricting knows, such changes challenge existing ways of doing business by creating new classes of winners and losers. Indeed, the “Pskovskaya Guberniya” newspaper reports, Turchak’s efforts have already led to “several hotspots” (


            Elsewhere, the changes, which include amalgamating nine rural settlements into five, joining rural and urban areas together into single administrative districts, cutting the number of districts from nine to two, and eliminating any status for smaller villages and towns and closing hospitals and schools, have not yet led to protests.


            But the paper, which has already published a detailed map showing these changes, said that it expects more people to complain once they realize that the schools to which they have been sending their children, the hospitals they have gone to for help, and the officials they have gotten used to are no more.


            At the same time, although the paper does not mention this, such amalgamations are going to lead to the dismissal of many officials, doctors, teachers and other government employees.  They are unlikely to be happy about that, and it is not inconceivable that they will be involved in protests as well.

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