Staunton, June 14 – Moscow’s new plan to amalgamate some of the country’s federal subjects by promoting regional agglomerations in the course of which existing borders will lose all meaning (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2021/06/moscow-to-use-agglomerations-to-cut.html) is provoking opposition in the Russian parliament.
Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko has already suggested that using agglomerations as a means to the end of amalgamation will lead to the depopulation of tmostons and ultimately to their falling away from Russia (rg.ru/2021/06/11/matvienko-nazvala-glavnyj-nedostatok-strategii-prostranstvennogo-razvitiia-rf.html).
The Regions portal has surveyed five Russian parliamentarians about their reaction to the agglomeration plan and to Matviyenko’s outspoken criticism of it (regions.ru/news/2629870/):
KPRF Deputy Oleg Smolin says he agrees with Matviyenko about the threat that agglomeration would entail. Anything that promotes the depopulation of regions threatens the country given that Russia’s geopolitical opponents are greedily eying large swaths of it and have already said publicly that Siberia and the Far East shouldn’t belong to Moscow.
What this means is that “if we will follow the principle of developing only some agglomerations, we will have to say goodbye to our territories. I consider that in the Russian Federation there cannot and must not be any territories” that the center is not planning to promote development in.
Just Russia Deputy Mikhail Yemelyanov also say that Matviyenko is “absolutely right.” And it is imperative hat “a bet on agglomerations in Russia not take place.” Russia is large and it is ridiculous to corral “enormous masses of people” in only a few places. Instead, the government should be promoting their dispersal.
LDPR Deputy Sergey Katasonov also agrees with Matviyenko and opposes adopting the agglomeration to amalgamation strategy. But he disagrees with the Federation Council chairman on the need to revise the current regional development program in radical ways. What is needed instead, he says, is to fulfill its provisions with existing units.
United Russia Senator Arkady Chernetsky argues that the country should focus on developing existing regions rather than thinking this will happen by combining some via agglomeration or simple unification. Doing the reverse is putting the card before the horse as it were.
And Senator Anatoly Lyskov, who is a non-party member of the upper chamber, says that revising the existing regional development plan “deserves political support” but argues that the parliamentarians should not simply make declarations but get involved in studying what might be done and working to adopt a plan and then implement it.
Any change in borders via agglomeration or some other means must be carefully examined and even more carefully carried out. If those conditions aren’t met, Lyskov says, history shows that there will be problems with the sides dividing over who “won” and who “lost” rather than focusing on common tasks.
The positions of the parliamentarians suggest that there isn’t going to be smooth sledding for the amalgamation by agglomeration plan, especially during an election season when deputies represent in half the cases specific places as well as specific parties. If the lines around their constituencies change, they face difficulties.
And to the extent that is the case, the apparent decision of the Kremlin to press forward with this right now is likely to continue to generate anger and opposition even before the first steps toward reducing the number of federal subjects in this way are taken.
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