Saturday, June 15, 2019

Kremlin’s Naming Ministers as Curators for Depressed Regions Another Sign of Desperation

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 14 – Moscow’s decision to make individual federal ministers “curators” for ten especially depressed federal subjects may attract more attention and help in the short term; but it is “an emergency measure,” experts say, and will do little or nothing regarding the regions’ basic problem: Moscow takes ever more resources from them and gives back ever less.

            Economic Development Minister Maksim Oreshkin is now “curator” for the Altai Republic, Karelia and Tyva, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov will oversee Kurgan Oblast, Agricultural Minister Dmitry Patrushev will supervise Adygeya, Construction Minister Vladimir Yakushev Mari El, and Labor Minister Maksim Topilin Altai Kray, Vedomosti reports (

            Depressed regions in the Far East and North Caucasus aren’t on this list because they already have their own federal ministries. Overseeing the entire arrangement will be Vitaly Mutkov, the deputy prime minister for regional development who remains notorious for his role in the doping scandal at the Sochi Olympiad.

            Experts say that in the best case, this will allow the regions with curator ministers to get their requests processed more quickly (, but they point out that is only “an emergency measure,” one that does nothing to address the lack of federalism and local control (

            Indeed, there are at least two reasons to think that this latest bureaucratic innovation will make the situation of the regions and of Russia as a whole even worse. On the one hand, it will add to the number of channels in the capital which will be competing with each other, thus slowing down rather than speeding up getting aid to those who need it.

            And on the other, and more seriously, it will exacerbate tensions between regions with curators and regions without them, with at least some of the latter seeking to gain a curator in order to gain access in Moscow and increasingly angry if as expected the Kremlin doesn’t expand the curator list to include them.

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