Staunton, May 14 – Yesterday, the governors of the depressed Arkhangelsk Oblast and the rich Nenets Autonomous District signed a memorandum calling for the amalgamation of the two into a single federal subject, the first but not the last step in that process, one that helps Vladimir Putin but seems certain to spark resistance and protests there and elsewhere.
For the Kremlin leader, such an amalgamation will help the two subjects better weather the current economic crisis, it will create a large and potentially influential Russian subject in the Arctic that Moscow can present as part of the fulfillment of Putin’s program there, and it would restart the regional amalgamation program that has been an on-again, off-again affair since 2006.
But it is certain to face resistance locally given that Moscow has promised that amalgamations will improve conditions for everyone when in fact they have not, add to protests over Moscow’s plans for trash dumps there, and frighten people in other non-Russian republics and districts (region.expert/arkhanao/).
According to Vedomosti, the two subjects will hold a referendum on amalgamation on September 13 (vedomosti.ru/politics/articles/2020/05/13/830146-arhangelskaya-oblast-i-nenetskii-okrug). That will be the first such amalgamation vote in 12 years. (For background, see mbk-news.appspot.com/suzhet/zachem-obedinyayut-regiony/
idelreal.org/a/30609885.html, vz.ru/politics/2020/5/14/1039134.html and svpressa.ru/politic/article/265329/