Sunday, December 27, 2020

Moscow’s Plan to Carve New Federal Territory Out of Portions of Stavropol Kray, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karchayevo-Cherkessia Angering Regional Officials

Paul Goble

            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 ( and

            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 ( and

            The first federal territory to be created, around the Olympic sites in Sochi, calmed these concerns to some extent because it involved a relatively small and self-contained resort space, even though as details have now come out, regional and local officials will have virtually no say in what happens there ( and

            That federal territory, which has been christened “Sirius,” will be run by a 17-member council. Nine of them will be directly elected by the people within the federal territory, three will be named by the Rusian president, another three by the Russian government and only one by the governor of Krasnodar Kray, within which the area of the federal territory is located.

            But now there is a report that Moscow is working on plans to create another and much larger federal territory that will include nine districts that had been part of Stavropol Kray, one from Kabardino-Balkaria, and two from Karachayevo-Cherkessia (

            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.


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