Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Putin’s Liquidation of North Caucasus Ministry Creates Problems for Region, Sparking Call for Replacement Body

Paul Goble
            Staunton, January 24 – Vladimir Putin’s decision to liquidate the Ministry for the North Caucasus and transfer its functions to the Ministry for Economic Development is creating serious problems for some North Caucasus elites and their relationships with each other and sparking at least one call for the creation of a new institution to take the place of the disbanded one.

            And in another case of bureaucratic entrepreneurialism, the new head of the Duma nationalities committee is calling for something many non-Russians and some Russians have long wanted, the replacement of the Federal Agency for Nationality Affairs with a full-blown Ministry for Nationality Affairs.

            Neither of these proposals is likely to go forward, but the fact that they are being made at all suggests that at least some in the region and in the Federal Assembly have concluded that with the changes Putin has recently put in train, now is a good time to push for changes that they would like to see.

            The Fortanga news agency reports that as a result of the disbanding of the North Caucasus ministry, local elites have lost control over two bodies they had been using as sources of revenue, the Resorts of the North Caucasus and the Corporation for the Development of the North Caucasus (fortanga.org/2020/01/likvidatsiya-minkavkaza-udar-po-klanam/).

            Moreover, for numerous political clans in the various republics, the end of the ministry means the end of jobs for important people closely allied with the heads of Ingushetia, Chechnya, and other republics, the agency continues.  These people had acted as lobbyists with representatives of the federal center. Now, they have been frozen out. 

            Perhaps the most interesting thing to have arisen as a result of the liquidation of the ministry is a call for Moscow to reverse course or at least create a new ministry that would fill the same tasks rather than having its responsibilities folded into a larger all-Russian institution that would inevitably not focus on the North Caucasus nearly as much.

            That call came from Taymuraz Mamsurov, the former head of North Ossetia, at a meeting of the Federation Council. The reasons for his proposal, Anton Chablin says, are obvious: his republic stands to lose control over an estimated one billion rubles (16 million US dollars) annually (akcent.site/novosti/6998).

            Meanwhile, in Moscow, Just Russia deputy Oleg Nikolayev who represents Chuvashia, Mari El and Ulyanov Oblast replaced Ildar Gilmutdinov as chairman of the Duma committee on nationality affairs.  According to his party leader, Sergey Mironov, Nikolayev will press for the creation of a new ministry for nationality affairs (spravedlivo.ru/10071210 and nazaccent.ru/content/32048-novyj-rukovoditel-komiteta-po-delam-nacionalnostej.html).

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