Friday, April 24, 2020

Zubarevich Urges All Regions to Follow St. Petersburg Governor’s Call to Press Moscow for More Money

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 23 -- Earlier this week, St. Petersburg head Aleksandr Beglov urged local deputies to “raise a rumpus” in Moscow and demand more money for their city. He said he has no money to carry out his basic responsibilities let alone those that have increased because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

            Now, Natalya Zubarevich, a regional economist at Moscow State University, is praising Beglov for his courage in making this point and urging other regional leaders not to be afraid and to make similar demands because unfortunately only the regions are responding at all adequately to the current challenges (

            Beglov told his deputies that he very much wants to help the population but doesn’t have sufficient funds. The answer, he said, was for them to “raise a rumpus” in Moscow and make sure that those at the center know what the problem is and give money to solve it before the situation deteriorates.

            Zubarevich says that she is grateful for Beglov’s words, a reflection of the fact that he “is not afraid to speak about those risks which are rapidly growing in the regions.”  He was the first perhaps to point out that the amount Moscow has promised the regions so far is not enough and, in any case, has not come through.

            Other regional heads need to do the same, to “speak openly about their budgetary problems” so that Moscow will begin to understand, she continues. At present, Moscow is reluctant to give any more because no one knows when or how the crisis will end and so is trying to keep something back for later.

            But the future “will be only worse,” Zubarevich says. “This crisis will be severe,” and it will take the country far longer and be more difficult than the partial return from the crisis of 2008.  Federal officials and politicians think they can ride things out, but they are wrong: their supporters will desert them if conditions where they or their relatives deteriorate.

            Meanwhile, there were five other developments today that suggest the regions and Moscow are on a collision course:

·         First, Ilya Grashchenko, head of the Center for Regional Policy, says Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin is working for Putin in putting in place the electronic pass system.  That arrangement is unpopular and there will be resistance as the center seeks to impose it everywhere (

·         Second, Russian ministers have started to criticize regions for their handling of the crisis and suggested that in at least some of them direct federal interference is going to be required to set things right (
·         Third, Moscow is having to contend with fake news on the Internet suggesting that the coronavirus is a Jewish creation designed to infect some nationalities but not others (

·         Fourth, the call by some demonstrators in Vladikavkaz for the setting up of “a provisional government” in North Ossetia is now sparking discussion, mostly critical but discussion nonetheless, about a political strategy for the opposition that is among the most frightening possibilities for the Kremlin (

·         And fifth, Russians and especially those in the Far East are having to absorb the news that a second wave of the pandemic has struck China and forced to isolate the city of Harbin in the northeastern portion of the country near the Russian border (

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