Staunton, Sept. 10 – Following Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin’s statement that he opposes uniting Moscow city and Moscow oblast because it would “complicate” the administration of both, Russians have taken to the Internet to express their opinions, with some sharing his opposition to such a union and others arguing that Sobyanin is wrong.
Those supporting unification say that it would be consistent with Russian practice in which the capital of a region is its largest city and a matter of simple justice because it would end discrimination against oblast residents by allowing them to take full advantage of hospitals and other facilities in the city (regnum.ru/news/economy/3366279.html).
But those opposed to any unification argue that past unifications of federal subjects have never worked out as the government has promised, are always expensive, and in this case would lead many in Moscow oblast to try to move into Moscow city, a migration that would have a negative impact on the capital.
Perhaps the most interesting and certainly the most radical comment came from Svetlana Z. He said that Moscow should not be united just with Moscow oblast but “with all of Russia,” whose residents would very much like to have all the benefits that Muscovites have and that they do not.
Vyacheslav O. agrees. He says that today “Moscow is a state within a state, the citizens of which have more rights than the rest of the residents of Russia, more income and live under completely different conditions.”
Commentators are beginning to weigh in as well. Oleg Ivanov, head of the Center for Resolving Social Conflict argues that the major obstacle to uniting the two federal subjects would be that the resulting one would have a leader who would play a disproportionate role in the upcoming transition (svpressa.ru/economy/article/309408/).
“The new region would become so significant and powerful that its head would be transforemed into a serious competitor for the head of state. I don’t think anyone needs this, and the president will hardly go in that direction.” At the very least, such a combination of federal subjects would lay the ground for “a long-running latent conflict.”
Aleksey Nezhivoy, head of the Laboratory of Political and Social Technologies, agrees. He says that as far as he can see, the only people pushing the idea of amalgamation are business interests who may see a larger capital region as working to their benefit. But Nezhivoy suggests that is hardly likely to be enough.