Merger of Russian regions: will the weak be stronger?

Governor of the Yaroslavl region Anatoly Lisitsin suggested an experiment: he offers to merge several regions into one state formation according to the principle that a stronger region is to adopt weaker ones. The governor also submitted a project for the merger to the presidential administration for consideration. The Kremlin’s position as concerning the problem has not been announced yet.

On Lisitsin’s suggestion, the Yaroslavl, Vologda, Kostroma and Ivanovo regions are to merge, as the Yaroslavl region is the strongest among them and the two latter exist due to subsidies only. The stronger region will be able to compensate the lacks of the weaker ones. Besides, the management system will be more effective.

Anatoly Lisitsin said in a televised address: “The necessity for such mergers has been pressing for a long period already. The federal center squeezes more and more finance from the donor regions every year, but the situation in the subsidized territories is not improving.

The Yaroslavl governor thinks, 89 federation subjects is a too large amount. To his opinion, an experiment for merger of the regions can be effective now either in the Central, or Northwestern federal districts only. Only the president will be authorized to appoint heads of newly-merged regions. As it is suggested in the draft, no referendum is required for a merger, it is to be done in accordance with a President’s direct decree.

The new initiative will hardly win a great support in the country, as the officials would not like to reduce the number of federation subjects. Anatoly Lisitsin says that after mergers finance will be appropriated directly – for example, from Yaroslavl to Kostroma (members of one and the same newly created region, as it is supposed). A negative response to the suggestion came from Kostroma governor Viktor Shershunov at once. In his interview to NTV Russian television he said, it was “a purely populist idea”, and if the draft is to be passed, it would contradict the Constitution. Anatoly Lisitsin was named “gatherer of Russian lands” at that. Kostroma deputy in the Duma Adrian Puzanovsky shares Shershunov’s opinion and asks the community to speak against “the absurd idea.”

In any case, Anatoly Lisitsin hopes, a merger of several regions will strengthen the power vertical. On the whole, the suggestion of the Yaroslavl governor does not seem to be new. Similar suggestions had been already made in Russia, but won no considerable support. Indeed, the idea requires a more detailed consideration. It will be really difficult to carry out mergers, as the well-settled, traditional economic and other relations are to be broken at that. The consequences of such mergers may be lamentable as well: all regions, even strong ones, may become poor at that.

As for the Krasnoyarsk region, Taimyr and Evenkia autonomous districts, they may probably merge in the nearest future already. But the situation in the area is peculiar, as Taimyr and Evenkia are situated on the Krasnoyarsk region’s territory, though they are independent federation subjects. The idea of a merger became more outlined after President Putin’s visit to the Krasnoyarsk region. Governor Alexander Lebed’s idea on the merger is supported by the Krasnoyarsk deputies. The governor of Taimyr Alexander Khloponin is not against the merger idea, on the whole, he is not satisfied with the way it is to be realized.

Sergey Yugov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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