Staunton, January 18 – Confronted by a new “revolt of the governors,” Vladimir Putin may soon launch a counter-attack, experts say, removing those who he judges “ineffective” for whatever reason and then amalgamating their regions or republics with neighboring regions led by ostensibly “more effective” rulers, who may be less than thrilled by such new burdens.
According to the Khakas Republic news portal, “in the next two years, the administrative map of the Russian Federation may be changed,” with the leaders of some being ousted and their regions or republics combined with stronger neighbors. Among the first is likely to be Khakasia, which would be folded into Krasnoyarsk Kray (19rus.info/index.php/vlast-i-politika/item/60917-ostatsya-v-zhivykh-perezhivet-li-glava-khakasii-volnu-regionalnogo-sliyaniya).
It cites the conclusions of a study prepared by specialists on Russian regions that just appeared on the Club of Regions portal (club-rf.ru/theme/450). They suggested that Putin may use the current economic crisis to eliminate from four to as many as 20 of the federal subjects of the Russian Federation.
“The process of optimizing expenses on the administrative apparatus,” that report said, “will be accompanied by a cadre bloodbath: the weaker governors will literally find the ground pulled out from under them.”
Kaluga governor Anatoly Artamonov argued last week that Moscow’s budgetary policies, by reducing the number of donor regions, was driving this process. No federal subject now wants to remain a donor and thus has reason to hide its successes or not pursue new ones (rg.ru/2017/01/11/artamonov-k-sokrashcheniiu-chisla-regionov-donorov-vedet-biudzhetnaia-politika.html).
(Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov not only has complained out this Moscow policy but has led a revolt of donor regions and republics against its continuation (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2017/01/economic-crisis-may-force-moscow-to.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2017/01/revolt-of-governors-so-large-at-gaidar.html).)
The new wave of regional amalgamation, the Club of Regions experts say, is likely to begin first in the capitals with the cities and the surrounding regions being combined. But then, they say, it is likely to be extended to Tyumen which will become a single federal subject rather than a matryoshka one with the Khanty-Mansiisk and Yamalo-Nenets districts within it.
Later, they continue, this process will lead to the unification of Chelyabinsk oblast with Sverdlovsk oblast into a kray, the combination of the Khakas republic with Krasnoyarsk, the unification of the Altay republic with the Altay Kray, and the absorption into Khabarovsk Kray of both the Amur Oblast and the Jewish Autonomous District.
The governors who would lose their jobs and lose their territories not surprisingly are very much opposed, the experts continue, but so too are some of those who would gain territory. In many cases, they say, they would be given more responsibilities without the resources needed to carry them out.
If all this happens, it would make the restart of Putin’s efforts a decade ago to reduce the number of federal subjects, some of which have proved successful but some of which have been failures and remain deeply unpopular with those who were absorbed, especially in the two Buryat districts which were never given the help Moscow promised.
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