Staunton, June 12 – Facing resistance to any moves to combine federal subjects as it has done in the past, the Russian government plans to use “the soft mechanism” of agglomerations to reduce the number of them from more than 80 to 41, according to a Moscow source. This source says that work has already begun on eight of them.
Yekaterina Lazareva of the URA news agency says “a source close to the government of Russia” has told her that according to a plan developed by Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusrullin, amalgamation will now take the form of creating “inter-regional agglomerations” as a step toward reducing the number of regions as such (ura.news/articles/1036282450).
Speaking at the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg, Khusrullin argued that “the megalopolises must be developed in the first instance” because they are where growth is most possible. According to URA’s source, the first four agglomerations to be created will be Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan and Krasnodar.
Moscow and Moscow Oblast will be combined, Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast will follow as will Tatarstan with parts of Mari El and Krasnodar Kray with the Adygey Republic. Those will become the models for others to be combined as this process unfolds over the next decade.
According to Sergey Markelov of the Markkom Company, the process will work in the following way. With the formation of agglomerations, borders between the existing federal subjects will be reduced in importance to nothing and the federal subject heads of the part to be absorbed will ultimately lose power.
He says that this process will be directed in the first instance to eliminating all the so-called “matryoshka” regions such as the Nenets AD within Arkhangelsk Oblast, the Yamalo-Nenets and Khanty-Mansiisk aD and Tyumen Oblast and Krasnodar Kray and the Republic of Adgeya.
Khrusullin is part of a group of Russian officials linked to Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin who are lobbying for these changes. According to URA’s source, they have now won the debate and the process of amalgamation through agglomeration is going to take off, with other methods being discarded as politically problematic.
The way forward is not going to be without controversy, Fyodor Biryukov of the Moscow Institute of Freedom and a Rodina Party leader. Agglomeration as a tactic is better than trying to combine federal subjects via referendum, but it is still going to harm many smaller places and smaller businesses and anger the population (svpressa.ru/politic/article/301191/