Friday, December 28, 2018

Russia’s Provinces are Moscow’s Colonies and the Struggle for Budgetary Federalism is Thus a National Liberation Movement, Shlosberg Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 28 – The just-complete budgetary process, Lev Shlosberg says, shows that “there is no federalism in Russia,” that Moscow has all the money and power, and that the provinces beyond the ring road are Moscow’s provinces, places from which the center extracts as much as it can while giving as little back as it can. 

            Because this is the case, the Pskov Yabloko deputy and commentator says, “the struggle for budgetary federalism and federalism as such is becoming part of the national liberation movement” rather than some secondary sideshow as most commentator usually present it to the extent they talk about it at all (

            “If you live where there are few residents, then most likely there won’t be any quality work places, normal health care, education, culture, roads, airports and resorts. You will feel yourself not even in a province but in a colony” and the victims of “a real colonial policy” that is emptying out the periphery as people strive to cope with Moscow’s taking away of all resources.

            Shlosberg documents this imperial policy in Pskov where Moscow gets all the money and thus makes all the decisions, leading to the impoverishment and decline of the region adjoining Latvia and Estonia which are prospering because they are no longer subject to the imperial diktat of the center.

            His figures and description of the back and forth between Moscow and Pskov are both fascinating and important; but far more important is his suggestion that the relationship between Moscow and the regions is one of an imperial center with its colonies and the struggle for the rights of the regions is not just about federalism but about colonial liberation.

            To the extent regionalism is viewed in this way, it may really become the case as this writer argued two years ago that regionalism will be “the nationalism of the next Russian revolution” (

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