Staunton, Nov. 9 – There are growing signs that the Kremlin plans to restart its regional amalgamation campaign not by trying to unite non-Russian federal subjects with predominantly ethnic Russian ones but instead by combining declining ethnic Russian regions, a move far less likely to provoke protests.
That the center has decided that moving against non-Russian republics could be dangerous is suggested by the Kremlin decision not to use the public power law to do away with the so-called matryoshka republics, non-Russian federal subjects surrounded by ethnic Russian ones (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2021/12/kremlin-decides-not-to-use-new-public.html).
Indeed, combining predominantly ethnic Russian regions in the central part of the country is even being discussed in the context of the more popular notion that Russia will become a country of large urban centers surrounded by largely depopulated areas (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2021/12/are-depopulating-russian-regions-around.html).
But now Aleksandr Asafov, a political commentator for Govorit Moskva radio, has provided new evidence for this shift. Citing the works of various political analysts, he suggests that amalgamation of Russian regions near Moscow is likely to return to the center of discussion after the 2024 elections (https://akcent.site/novosti/17316).
Among the candidates for such amalgamation are Tula, Ryzan, Vladimir and Tver Oblasts, all of which have seen declining populations and economies in recent decades and all of which are closely linked to the rapidly growing conurbation of Moscow and Moscow Oblast (akcent.site/mneniya/17292).
What remains to be seen is just what new lines might be drawn and whether either the leaders of these federal subjects or Russian nationalists will protest, likely complaining that they are about to become victims of a policy that they and most others understood as being directed at the non-Russian minorities rather than the ethnic Russian majority.