Staunton, May 21 – Russia’s regions must on their own agree to a new federal treaty during the next leadership transition in Moscow rather than continue to seek preferences from the center, Libertarian Party leader Mikhail Svetov says, because anything Moscow gives under current arrangements, it can then take away at its discretion.
But there are even more profound reasons why such a treaty is needed, he continues. First of all, if the regions retain the taxes they collect and give Moscow only a small percentage of them, they will be far better off than they are, they will see that there are no poor regions but only regions Moscow has stolen from (idelreal.org/a/29952976.html).
Second, if the regions retain powers, they will be able to compete with each other on the basis of comparative advantage and Russia will be the winner. Those which are now poorer and have lower wage costs will be able to attract business, and those which are richer now because of natural resources will be able to invest in themselves.
And third, in this situation, people will move from one region to another, voting with their feet as it were, Svetov argues, so that the regions will compete with each other rather than all being enslaved by the center. Russia will cease to be a prison house of peoples; it will become a flourishing economy and free society where people can move about to meet their needs.
If one region adopts repressive measures, Russians in such a situation will be able to move elsewhere. And such population shifts will have the effect of improving the life of all because those who have adopted laws people don’t like will see their populations and their standard of living fall.
The Libertarian Party leader has been carrying his message to the regions, insisting that they need not only a new federal treaty but also lustration to get rid of the Soviet-era officials who still dominate much of the country and greater private ownership of land so that the state cannot steal everything from the population.
His message has found some support but also generated attacks – he has been subjected to them both in Moscow and most recently in Kazan. Svetov’s words are likely to be more positively received by ethnic Russians than non-Russians because he argues that market forces will lead to assimilation, as it has in the US, even more rapidly than state power.
But even among the non-Russians, his libertarian approach may gain ground because he would allow them to retain more resources and the power to make decisions. Some of them might very well be prepared to sacrifice economic growth in the name of the defense of their nationalities. And that too is something a real federation would allow.