Friday, May 22, 2020

Moscow Now Wants to Merge Not Just Arkhangelsk and the Nenets AO but the Komi Republic with Them, a Plan Opposed in All Three

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 21 – The Kremlin’s plans to amalgamate Arkhangelsk Oblast and the Nenets Autonomous District into a single federal subject have already sparked opposition in both places (, and

            But Moscow’s general failure to pay attention to the population and its proclivity for grandiosity are leading to a push for an even larger amalgamation, one that would include these two as well as the Komi Republic, whose leaders have also come out against the idea (, and

            If this proposal is realized, that would create an enormous region, as large as Scandinavia, but with only two million people in cities connected only by air (

            Putin would no doubt welcome this as a major step forward in the development of the Russian North and as a restart of his on-again, off-again regional amalgamation project. But this effort will infuriate non-Russians because as some in the two non-Russian regions say, what is being proposed is “not the unification of regions but the annexation” of non-Russian republics.

            And they will fight this project in the coming days and weeks. As one Komi activist told Ramazan Alpaut of the IdelReal portal, “the Komi are an extremely numerous people and an evolved political nation.” They don’t want to be submerged in some larger entity whose capital and concerns will be far from them (

            But even more important than this opposition in the three federal subjects will be opposition both in the larger non-Russian republics who will view this move as directed against them and in Moscow among opposition groups who may this time around recognize that the attack on the non-Russian republics is ultimately an attack on Russian democracy as such. 

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