Staunton, May 15 – Theorists of democracy have long spoken about the need for a tripartite division of powers among the legislative, executive and judicial, Vladimir Pastukhov says. That is a task Russia has yet to complete. But there is “a fourth division of powers” which may prove even more challenging, that of federalizing an enormous country.
The London-based Russian analyst says that “federalism is in essence the process of adding a fourth dimension to the concept of the division of powers and the fourth dimension must include a territorial division as well” as part of the general system of “checks and balances” that democracy requires (polit.ru/article/2023/05/15/pastuhov/).
And because of Russia’s historical experience, the best or at least least dangerous way to promote federalization is not by redrawing the map of the Russian Federation by combining or dividing existing federal subjects but by grouping them into 15 to 20 super regions and having the latter represented in a third house of parliament, a State Council or “ideal Politburo.”
Given that some of Russia’s federal subjects aren’t just territorial but ethno-territorial, changing borders could spark a hot phase of Russia’s currently incubating civil war, Pastukhov continues, but imposing a new layer with a new representation in Moscow could avoid that and allow both the continuation of existing divisions and their subordination to other larger ones.
Putin tried to create something like this with his federal districts; but those were administrative rather than political entities and have been still born in many respects, the analyst says. Nonetheless, they can serve as the basis for the elaboration of other ideas that won’t produce governors general but rather regional heavy weights to counter the central powers.
These new regional structures would be political and headed by those who won out in elections across their regions, and they would then help run those below them and participate in politics at the center as “an ideal Politburo,” ideal precisely because it would be “institutionalized” and everything hidden would now be in the open.
Moving in that direction wouldn’t be easy but it might prove less dangerous than moving in any of the other directions being suggested ranging from doing nothing which will lead to degradation or dividing up along existing borders which will lead to civil war, Pastukhov concludes. Now is the time for imaginative ideas, and perhaps this can be one of them.