Staunton, May 24 – Whenever Moscow begins talking about amalgamating regions, two things occur. On the one hand, opposition arises in many places where people fear that they would only lose status and opportunity if they were combined with something else. And on the other, new proposals emerge quite different from what the originators of such walk want.
Since Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin suggested last month that Moscow should launch a new drive to amalgamate regions, opposition has emerged in almost all regions whose leaders and people feel they would be the losers. In fact, such opposition was so great that Khusnullin and those sharing his views have backed off at least for the time being.
But the other trend, in which this or that region proposes absorbing its neighbor or neighbors, has not ended, something that is a problem because in many cases the amalgamation that this or that region would like to see is not one that Moscow would be comfortable with. Indeed, it could be a threat.
There is widespread recognition in the regions if not at the center that regions in countries with fewer subdivisions may not only be stronger vis-à-vis the capital but even be in a position to challenge the regime if it ignores their interests. After all, recent history has shown that countries with few subdivisions are more likely to fall apart than those with more.
But in addition to that, some in the regions are making more radical proposals reflecting their understanding of what is wrong with the Russian Federation as it currently exists. Perhaps the most radical are coming from Saratov, a predominantly ethnic Russian region in the southwestern portion of the country.
There, in response to Khusrullin’s call, residents have proposed that the best form of amalgamation would involve uniting Moscow with the rest of Russia, a reflection of the view not only there but elsewhere that Moscow is increasingly another country in occupation of the rest of Russia (regnum.ru/news/polit/3277739.html).
Among the statements Saratov residents have been registering online and in person, the Regnum news agency says, are the following “Moscow must be united with Russia!” “Unite Moscow with all of Russia at long last because otherwise Muscovites are not like us!” and “Let’s also include Moscow in our union; then we can talk about something.”
Few in Saratov probably expect that to happen; but many in Moscow may be distressed that talk about amalgamation has led to this, proposals for transforming the country so that Moscow is genuinely part of it rather than the ring road around the capital being something more than just route for cars and trucks.