Staunton, Oct. 31 – Vladimir Putin has adopted the same strategy regarding federalism that he has with almost all other issues, first undermining the positions of his competitors and only then going after the formal status they are supposed to have, Bashkortostan activist Ruslan Gabbasov says.
That approach has served him well because his use of hybrid means to weaken his targets often has meant that those who remain have fewer resources and less confidence that they can hold out on formal issues like the titles of officials or the status of particular government institutions, he continues (idelreal.org/a/31533355.html).
Had Putin attacked the formalities first as he did with his amalgamation campaign a decade ago, he would have faced more resistance and possibly suffered defeats. But what is striking is that despite his destruction of the real content of federalism, the Kremlin leader is now facing so much resistance to his plan to eliminate the formalities of that constitutional promise.
In many places, Tatarstan in the first instance but also in Sakha, Khanty-Mansiisk, Yamalo-Nenets, and Arkhangelsk Oblast, politicians and activists as well as ordinary citizens understand that if they don’t defend formalities like the title of president, they will lose everything, even their republics or regions to the increasingly unitary state.
What is depressing, the Bashkir activist says, is that in his own republic, many dismiss the fight over the title of president or the other provisions of Putin’s latest moves as something that doesn’t concern them. Bashkortostan doesn’t have a president or the other things and so needn’t defend Tatarstan which still does.
That gives Putin a victory he doesn’t deserve and only serves to highlight the fact that only if the republics and regions cooperate and see that they have common interests against Moscow do they have any hope of stopping the center from eliminating the last vestiges of their rights. One can only hope, Gabbasov suggests, that people beyond the ring road will see this.
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