Sunday, August 21, 2022

Even Under Putin, Republic Leaders Mostly Local People while Regional Ones Come Mostly from Elsewhere, Manannikov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 25 – The major reason that regionalism is weaker among predominantly Russian oblasts and krays, Aleksey Manannikov says, is that Moscow generally appoints members of the titular nationalities to head non-Russian republics but now names heads of oblasts and krays from outside their borders.

            As a result, the Siberian activist who came to prominence in the early 1990s tells the meeting of the League of Free Nations of Russia in Prague, he is a pessimist at least in the short term that regionalism can take off in the predominantly Russian oblasts and krays but believes that regionalism there does have a future (

            Under Stalin, Moscow did not make a major distinction between the two types of federal structures, often appointing outsiders to head republics as well as regions. After his death, both regions and republics sought to have their own people promoted to the top jobs. That led to the growth of regional and ethnic challenges at the end of the 1980s and early 1990s.

            Since Putin came to power, the Kremlin leader has increasingly appointed outsiders to head oblasts and krays and even done so in non-Russian republics, although not nearly to the same degree. That has limited the growth of regionalism in the regions, even as ethnically based regionalism in the non-Russian republics has continued to grow.

            Manannikov says that for that reason and not because of any common ethnic loyalty, he is a pessimist about the possibilities for regionalism in predominantly Russian oblasts and krays.  He says that today, “Russia on the scale of totalitarianism is somewhere between carnival-like Cuba and harsh North Korea,” but it is drifting ever more in the North Korean direction.

“But regionalism and federalism are matters of good sense and as a rational way of organizing social life will live,” the longtime activist says. “I hope therefore that the Forum of Free Peoples of Russia,” especially among the victorious powers of World War III which is now going on.

If that happens, then at some point, ever more of Moscow’s colonies will be able to escape the current repression – and “in particular, its largest colony, Siberia.”

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