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Books by Grigory Yavlinsky
Economics and Politics in Russia
The Center for Economic and Political Research (EPIcenter)
Nizhni Novgorod-Moscow, 1992

1.1. Concise Analysis of the Situation.

The Political Environment in the Russian Federation.The Regions.

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Two groups of regions may be distinguished: the first is represented by the republics, autonomous okrugs and the autonomous oblast and the second - by the oblasts and krais.

Within the first group we can separate two groups of regions: the first includes the republics with strong demands to separate from Russia (Tuva and Bashkortostan; Sakha (Yakutia) in the long term; or Tatarstan and Chechnya, which have already declared their separation); and the second - the republics where the situation is generally

tranquil (Chuvashia, Mordovia, Mariy El, etc.). The problem of separation is not yet urgent for the second group of regions (by which is meant only oblasts and krais).

What forces are putting forward the regions' demands for separation? Usually such demands are forwarded by:

- regional executive authorities; - regional legislative authorities; - parties, and public and political movements.

It is early to speak of separation of oblasts and krais. Except for Siberia, which is not a region in the aforesaid meaning of the word, although as regards separation of Siberia one can adopt the above classification of the forces. (In the case of Siberian separatism, with its more than century-long history, we are speaking not about the demands of executive or legislative authorities, rather we can only speak about the demands of "public and political forces", which are guided by a very effective ideology according to which Siberia is Russia's colony, and thus its separation is rather natural, like the separation of Latin- American Spanish-speaking colonies from Spain).

The reasons for Russia's political disintegration are diverse. They are partially of ethnic and partially of economic nature. The striving for power by the republican political elites also plays one of the major roles here. But, in any case, all these factors act together when political disintegration takes place. And here the economic factors are becoming vitally important, and in some cases even prevailing. Separation of oil-rich Tatarstan was no accident, and neither were similar developments in Bashkortostan and Yakutia.

Strictly economically, the "threat of separation of a regions" would never arise "if the problem of granting them regular privileges was solved" (E.Gaidar). This

interpretation is vaguely based on a notion of some general "regions", regardless of the division into oblasts and - 17 -

republics, and a confusion between political and economic disintegration. (Of course, it is possible to speak of "regions in general", but that would be another level of abstraction, and in such a general understanding this notion cannot be applied to the analysis of economic and political disintegration in Russia).

We can even say that for many republics, political self- determination largely serves (or will serve) as a condition for economic separation from the "centre", though political and economic disintegration are developing in parallel. But it is quite disturbing that in some cases Russia's oblasts are beginning to behave like republics. Thus, not only Tatarstan, Bashkorstan, and Sakha (Yakutia), but also the Novosibirsk, Chelyabinsk, Tyumen, Samara, Sakhalin and other regions (oblasts) adopted one-channel taxation.

The first cases of political grouping of the regions for economic opposition to the "centre" have been registered. This has been furthered by the rash attempt of the "centre" to "introduce proper order" (for example, the Law on the Budget System for 1992, adopted on July 17, 1992 by the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation, and Parliament's resolutions, which envisage sanctions against regions violating two-channel taxation). The fact that these blocs are being formed at a "qualitatively new stage" is rather disturbing. Some of the republics not only "prepare to take additional measures in fortifying their state sovereignty", but also unite in their struggle against the Centre (i.e., the signing of a joint declaration by the leaderships of Tatarstan, Bashkortostan and Sakha (Yakutia), targeted against the aforesaid decision of the Parliament). "The qualitatively new stage" also includes the fact that both the subjects of the Federation Treaty (in this case, Bashkortostan and Sakha (Yakutia), and the republics that did not sign it (Tatarstan)) are beginning to band together

against the federal Centre. This presents a threat to the present Federation and may lead to a situation in which at least some of the republics will rescind their signing of the Federation Treaty.

Conflicts within separate regions deserve special mention. These may also include those between small nationalities and regional authorities. For example, the conflict in Primorski Krai between the Udydeya people and the administration of the krai arose because of the timber-felling by the South Korean corporation Hende, which was destroying the environment of the Udygea people. The Ussuriy Caussaks also supported the demands of the Udygea. Other conflicts may be between the Russian population and republican authorities declaring the independence of the republic. In the latter case, if the Russian population is densely distributed, then a demand for a Russian autonomy within the republic may arise. Such a situation was developing some time ago in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). Also the demands of some nationalities to create national areas (for example, the Congress of the Shapsug People set forth such demands in the Krasnodar Krai), and potential clashes between the regions can be classified as conflicts of the latter type. The conflicts between regions are connected with the fact that many of the borders between the republics and oblasts of the Russian Federation are rather ill-defined, and there are cases in which a city administratively subordinated to one oblast is mostly situated on the territory of another republic (such as Saratov, which is situated on the border- line of the Nizhni Novgorod oblast and Mordovia).

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