Tuesday, February 19, 2019

LDPR Call for Combining Moscow City and Oblast into Single ‘Gubernia’ Divides Russian Political Class

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 18 – LDPR deputy Vasily Vlasov has proposed that the city of Moscow and Moscow oblast be combined into a single Moscow gubernia and that it be headed by a governor general has divided the Russian political class with some pointing to its economic benefits and role in restarting regional amalgamation and others opposed on both grounds.

            Vlasov made that proposal to Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, arguing that it will solve many problems for both now-administratively separate units and make possible improvements in economic and political management of the central core of the Russian Federation (ria.ru/20190215/1550894792.html).

            The Regions.ru news agency interviewed former Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov and two current deputies. The former is generally in favor of the idea, but the other two, Arrkady Chernetsky of United Russia and Valery Gartung of Just Russia, are strongly opposed, albeit for somewhat different reasons (regions.ru/news/2626394/).

            Such integration would be useful economically, something especially important at the present time, Luzhkov says, although he adds that what a single political administration of the new unit should be like is “separate question.”

            Chernetsky in contrast says that he would not unite the two if for no other reason that as a result “we would get too large a region which would be impossible to administer effectively.”  Regional amalgamation in general is a good idea and should be pursued elsewhere but not in this case.

            “As is said,” he continues, “everything needs to be done without fanaticism. In particular, there is no need to unite two major subjects of the Russian Federation.”  That would result in “some kind of super-subject,” almost an entire country.

            And Gartung is even more negative. He says there is no economic sense in uniting the two and that if the central government were to agree, then “we would get an entire country with a completely ineffective system of administration.” There is thus “no sense, economic or any other” in this proposal.

            According to the deputy, Vlasov made it only to attract attention to himself and his party.

            As far as regional amalgamation more generally is concerned, Gartung continues, there is no purpose it going further with it now. Instead, Moscow should be focused on strengthening the economy rather than redrawing borders.  Otherwise, he says, it looks like people in the capital are simply ‘rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.”

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