Thursday, June 25, 2015

Another Partial Retreat from Putin’s Regional Amalgamation Drive

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 25 – Vladimir Putin’s drive beginning a decade ago to amalgamate smaller non-Russian regions with surrounding Russian ones has not only stalled – there has been no forward movement at all in recent years – but has begun to be rolled back as both the non-Russians and the Russians involved increasingly view it as a mistake.

            Today, “Nezavisimaya gazeta” reports, the legislative assembly of Krasnoyarks is considering on first reading a law that would give Taymyr and Evenkia, the two federal subjects that were amalgamated into Krasnoyarsk ten years ago by referendum as the first steps in Putin’s plan to reduce the number of federal subjects (

            “In the opinion of many northerners and experts and even bureaucrats,” the Moscow paper reports, “the loss of autonomous status led to serious problems in the Yenisey North,” with the two receiving less support from Moscow and residents forced to travel thousands of kilometers to obtain basic documents like hunting licenses, passports, and deeds.

            These problems in turn “have led to the appearance of a law” which will give “special status” to the northern territories. Because of the economic crisis, it will not provide them with any additional funds, but it will lead to the creation of a council attached to the Krasnoyarsk governor in which they will be able to air their grievances and seek more help.

            Valery Vengo, president of the regional Association of Public Organizations of the Numerically Small Indigenous Peoples of the North of Krasnodar kray and a deputy in the legislative assembly from Taymyr, says he and his colleagues have been seeking the adoption of this law “for several years.” This law should provide some help.

            But others are not so sure. Yury Moskvich, a Russian political scientist, suggests that the new legislation will “satisfy the ambitions of the representatives of the elite of the former districts” and possibly give them “an administrative resource.” However, “it will not solve the task of the development of the northern territories in a strategic fashion.”

            That is because, he argues, underlying this legislation is “the paternalistic philosophy which was left to us as a heritage from the Soviet era. Beyond any doubt, the North requires a special approach, but the question arises: when will the federal and regional authorities begin to focus on the development of the economy of these territories?”

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