Staunton, March 31 – Ilya Grashchenkov, head of the Moscow Center for the Development of Regional Policy, says that Russia is both an empire and a federation and as such “requires unitary rule” from the center. Otherwise, inequality among the regions would only increase and potentially undermine the integrity of the country as a whole.
According to the political scientist, Moscow takes money from oil and gas producing regions and then distributes it to all as it sees fit. If a genuine federation were to develop, “then the rich regions would demand more.” And the poorer ones would suffer even more than they do at present (svpressa.ru/politic/article/294138/).
Problems arise, however, because the center does more than just redistribute money. It uses what it receives to promote its own “gigantic” projects and to carry out foreign policy actions and thus the wealthier regions lose more than they gain and the poorer ones get less than they need, Grashchenkov says.
His comments come in response to LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s call for doing away with the Federation Council because Russia isn’t a real federation and because its arrangements discriminate against ethnic Russian majority areas. They have relatively fewer representatives there than do non-Russians.
Grashchenkov dismisses Zhirinovsky’s latest proposal as nothing more than an attempt to attract attention in the run-up to the Duma elections. His call to disband the Federation Council puts him in one rank “with dictators who would lead the Russian Federation to a bright future” or more precisely to just the reverse.
Sofiya Sachivko, a Svobodnaya pressa journalist, also spoke with Dmitry Zhuravlyev, head of the Moscow Institute of Regional Problems about Zhirinovsky’s latest proposal. “Zhirionvsky asserts that Russia is a unitary state because he wants it to be” but in fact, “we live in the Russian Federation.”
The LDPR leader says, Zhuravlyev continues, “that Russians have no independent republic and therefore all national republics should become krays or oblasts. And then Russia will really be a unitary state,” in his understanding. But Zhirinovsky is wrong about that. even though many ethnic Russians will like what he says.
The Federation Council which Zhirinovsky wants to disband “is a chamber of the regions, and the main principle of its formation is that from each region there are an equal number of representatives” in contrast to the Duma which is based on population. He doesn’t want to continue a situation in which some regions have “one deputy and two senators.”
It sometimes happens, Zhuravlyev says, that “in a region are senators and a deputy only because by law there must be one deputy per region, even if the district’s population doesn’t justify that.” The LDPR leader is “exploiting” anger about that. But if he got his way, regional inequality would increase not decline.