Thursday, February 20, 2020

‘Someone will Always be Unhappy about Borders of Federal Subjects and Will Blame Moscow,’ Zatulin Says

Paul Goble
            Staunton, February 13 – Calls by Ingush and Kalmyk lawmakers to amend the Russian Constitution so that territories may be shifted from one federal subject to another without mutual agreement are dangerous, Konstantin Zatulin says, because that would open the way for some to seek to expand their territories at the expense of others.

            Not only would that dramatically increase the number of federal subjects making such claims – Ingushetia and Kalmykia are simply trying to recover land they lost when their nations were deported – and thus exacerbating tensions in many regions; but it would also increase tensions between the regions and Moscow, the Duma deputy says.

            That is because, Zatulin says, “someone will always be dissatisfied with the outcome of territorial disputes, but [in the eyes of the losing parties] Moscow will invariably remain the guilty party,” blamed for the border changes even if it did nothing to initiate them (

            Two other commentators raise other objections to the idea.  Irina Kotelevskaya, a legal expert at the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service, says that the constitution should not be loaded down with specific provisions but rather should set the framework within which laws can be drafted (

            Russia’s regions and republics are always going to have disagreements, she points out; “but this doesn’t mean that all procedures must be written into the Constitution.” That freezes the possibilities for change as the country evolves. And her colleague, Sergey Komarov, offers what may be the reason that the Ingush-Kalmyk proposal isn’t going anywhere.

            The Moscow specialist on government structures notes that the constitution already specifies a mechanism for resolving territorial disputes among the federal subjects. That mechanism has worked well up to now, and despite the complaints of two, there is no reason to change it. Indeed, any change could make things worse (

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