Saturday, April 27, 2024

Moscow May Restart Regional Amalgamation Effort but Unlikely to Touch North Caucasus, Experts Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Apr. 24 – Federation Council speaker Valentina Matviyenko says that there are several regions in the Russian Federation which should be combined with their neighbors to make it easier for Moscow to administer the country but that such efforts must be carefully prepared lest amalgamation spark resistance.

            Her comments now ( and are almost an exact repetition of those she made more than a decade ago (

            But although amalgamation has long been on hold, Matviyenko’s call for unifying federal subjects may take off. On the one hand, there have been increasing rumblings about that among non-Russians who fear that Putin will follow his latest “re-election” with a move against them (

            And on the other, there have been similar calls by some officials in the Russian government in recent months, also repeating earlier arguments made by the same people (, and

            Nonetheless, resistance to such moves continues to arise even when officials seek to combine cities and towns ( And experts warn that Moscow would again face opposition if it sought to combine regions or republics, slowing or even killing such moves (

            However that may be, Putin has shown himself much enamored of the idea of combining federal subjects and may indeed move ahead now to distract attention and demonstrate his control. Given that, Stavropol’s Center for the Support of Social and Civic Initiatives has issued a report about the regions and republics most likely to be combined (

            As summarized by Aksent’s Anton Chablin, the Center provides the following checklist for the next 18 months:

·       In the Far East, the Jewish Autonomous Oblast is the most likely candidate for unification and may be combined with Khabarovsk Kray. Combining Khabarovsk Kray with Primorsky Kray or Primorsky Kray with Sakhalin are unlikely.

·       In the Urals, Moscow may seek to unite the Tyumen matryoshka of Tyumen Oblast, Yamal, and Yurga but that would face serious local resistance. More realistic is the combination of Kurgan and Chelyanvsk Oblasts.

·       In the North-West, Moscow is unlikely to repeat its failed effot to unite the Nenets Autonomous District with Arkhangelsk Oblast; but it may seek to combine Pskov Obalast with Novgorod Oblast and Leningrad Oblast with St. Petersburg which has the status of a federal subject.

·       In the South, no changes are likely in the North Caucasus because of local resistance; but Moscow may try to combine Sebastopol and Crimea in those occupied portions of Ukraine.

·       And in Central Russia, some of the poorer oblasts which are losing population may be combined to form larger ones and give Moscow a victory on the amalgamation front, the Center says.


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