Monday, July 6, 2020

Federal Territories Amendment Threatens to Make All Russia into a Colony of Moscow, Bednov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 5 – After being largely ignored in the runup to the referendum on amendments to the constitution, the change which establishes federal subjects as one of the forms of the territorial arrangement of the Russian Federation alongside oblasts, krays and republics is now the subject of intense interest and examination.

            One analyst, Parmen Posokhov argues that Putin could hand these territories over to his loyalists who would then play the role of 20th century variant of Ivan the Terrible’s oprichniks and thus play a key role in the management of in  the as yet-unresolved Putin succession (

            Now, a second analyst, Arkhangelsk journalist Anatoly Bednov suggests that Putin will use the possibilities the option of federal territories present to weaken and undermine the existing federal subjects in general and the non-Russian republics in particular and end by making Russia beyond the ring road “a colony of Moscow” ( federal territories as threat

            In what might appear a paradox, the Kremlin which is so concerned with maintaining the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation as a whole, is “prepared to violate the integrity of the subjects which make it up” and to do so in a hybrid fashion rather than by policies developed through discussion and debate. 

            Some writers have pointed out, Bednov says, that other federative states, including Canada and Australia have “federal territories,” but these are in largely unpopulated areas and in any case have not been carved out of existing federal units.  “But in Russian everything is possible,” and that is just the problem here.

            If Moscow wants to construct a trash dump on the territory of an oblast or republic and the latter doesn’t want it, then the center may be able to declare the land it needs “a federal territory” and take it away from the leaders and peoples of the existing federal subjects, the Arkhangelsk writer continues.

            And if Moscow does take the land away from them, it doesn’t have to run it directly itself. It can hand it over to mixed public-private corporations like the Hudson Bay Company or the East India Company and thus privatize the Russian state in yet another and even more direct way than it has elsewhere.

Bednov says that such a possibility was even discussed a few years back with respect to Siberia and the Russian Far East, although nothing came of it then. Now, depending on the law that the Duma must pass to implement the new constitutional amendment, that could happen and not just there.

            “With the help of this ‘Shiyes amendment,’” he argues, “Russia will finally be converted into a Muscovite colony,” where the center both directly and indirectly will run everything and where the colonized will have no voice and may not even survive – yet another reason Putin is ignoring the needs and rights of the people and calling for more immigrants to replace them.

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