Staunton, December 26 – In early 2020, some analysts suggested that the constitutional change likely to produce the most conflicts was a new provision allowing Moscow to form federal territories subordinate to itself out of land that up to now had included in one or more federal subjects (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/07/creation-of-even-small-federal.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/07/federal-territories-amendment-threatens.html).
Some commentators even expressed fears that the Kremlin would use this new territorial category to do away with non-Russian republics or amalgamate their remains, after federal territories were carved out of them, into larger and predominantly ethnic Russian oblasts and krays (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/07/amendment-allowing-for-federal.html and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/02/moscow-could-absorb-south-ossetia.html
The administrations of all these units will be abolished and the region placed under the government of a single federal territory, “the Caucasus Mineral Waters Resort Region,” that presumably will be dominated by Moscow and will strip important parts of two non-Russian republics from them as part of the new arrangement.
Like the Sirius federal territory in Sochi, this new unit is ostensibly being formed so that all the resorts will be under a similar legal regime rather than as now with the governments of the republics and the kray involved. Not surprisingly, many officials whose jobs will disappear or whose powers be significantly reduced reportedly are not thrilled by the situation.
Defenders of what Moscow is doing will say that its focus on resorts justifies such steps, but opponents will be upset that existing federal subjects will be losing control and taxation power over portions of their land and possibly will be losing the land permanently as well, an especially neuralgic issue in the North Caucasus.
And the opponents will certainly express fears that this move, after the much smaller one in Sochi, is part of a new “hybrid” attack on the republics and krays of the Russian Federation and thus another demonstration that Vladimir Putin will use whatever means he has at hand to destroy the last remnants of federalism there.