Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Any Effort to Create a Super-Baikal Region would be ‘Suicidal’ for All Concerned, Expert Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 24 – Rumor continue to circulate that plans are afoot to unite the Buryat republic, the Trans-Baikal Kray, and Inkutsk Oblast into a single federal district, but people on the ground say that this idea isn’t going anywhere; and one expert says that its pursuit would be “suicidal” for all involved.

            Indeed, Yevgeny Khamaganov of the ARD portal says, so many people locally say that such a move isn’t going to happen that the question becomes inevitable: why is the theme being raised again and again in the media? Who benefits and whom does those who benefit hope to harm as a result? (asiarussia.ru/articles/14959/).

            In a series of Facebook posts, lawyer Aldar Erdyneyev, an aide to Senator Vyacheslave Markhayev, says that all talk about uniting the three federal subjects into one is without foundation politically or legally (facebook.com/profile.php?id=100007693986623).

            To carry it out would require its approval in all three existing subjects in a referendum that would have to get more than 50 percent of the voters to turn out. If it failed in even one, the entire project would collapse, Erdyneyev points out. All that would be much roe difficult than were the votes on the much smaller Buryat entities that were amalgamated a decade ago.

            Now, he argues, “unifying the three regions into one would be the equivalent of suicide for all its participants.” Not only is a presidential election approaching in which the current heads don’t want to stir up ethnic passions, but “the Buryat emigration, both abroad and in other regions of Russia is strong and has taken into account” its errors over the Agin and Ust-Orda districts.

            Unifying the three would be extremely time consuming and expensive. Irkutsk Oblast has almost 2.5 million residents; the Transbaikal Kray, a little over one million; and the Buryat Republic almost a million. At a time of economic crisis, there is no way this could be done given that it would have no economic benefits and could trigger ethnic clashes.

            Talk about this now, he and the ARD author suggest, almost certainly comes from those who want to create problems for the current governors, all three of whom are viewed as weak and vulnerable, but who have no real plans to do what they are encouraging others to talk about in the media.

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