Staunton, February 12 – At the end of January, Nikolay Petrov, the head of the Moscow Center for Political-Geographic Research, argued that the further and excessive centralization of the Russian government could very easily trigger a new crisis in the regions, which will be left with even fewer powers (theins.ru/opinions/197998).
In a commentary on the Tallinn-based Region.Expert portal today, Mikhail Feldman, a political analyst from Kaliningrad, agrees but suggests that it is important to understand how that crisis is likely to arise, what will be the key issues involved, and who will be the most important players (region.expert/taxation/).
Any resistance from the regions to the increased centralization of power is not going to come from the federal appointees who are now the heads of all the oblasts, krays and republics nor, given how lockstep their legislatures are prepared to act in response to the new amendments will some kind of revolt emerge.
(The vote in Kaliningrad’s parliament about the latest presidential amendments shows that the deputies whether they are in United Russia or in the so-called “systemic opposition” are not going to come out against the center. They aren’t even going to pay attention to what the center is doing to them and their positions.)
But that is not the end of the story, Feldman says. And he suggests that this crisis will emerge because the new Russian government of Mikhail Mishustin has made tax collections “one of the main criteria of the assessment of the effectiveness of the administrations of the regions.”
That means that the regional administrations are going to be tasked with extracting even more money from business and the population leading some of the former to close – in Kaliningrad oblast, five times as many closed last year as opened – and further depressing the standard of living of the latter.
Given that little of the tax moneys collected in the regions will be returned to them, Feldman says, ever more people are going to begin to ask themselves what they are paying for and even think in the way the American colonists did when London sought to increase its tax collections from them.
The Americans advanced the slogan “no taxation without representation” at the start of their revolution. “It is hard to say whether this demand will be advanced in the Russian Federation, but it is obvious that relations between ‘the federal center’ and the regions” especially after the latest constitutional amendments “ever more recall colonial ones.”
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