Political crisis in Russia : the regional dimension / Irina Busygina. - Bonn, 1993 (Studie der Abteilung Außenpolitikforschung im Forschungsinstitut der Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung ; 58). - ISBN 3-86077-112-4


8. Conclusions

Four main conclusions can be derived from the analysis of current regional developments in Russia.

1. The state system of Russia which has existed up to now can be described neither as federal nor as unitarian. The new constitution and the Federation Assembly in its function as the upper chamber of parliament basically outline the shape of the Constitutional Federation as a mechanism for the expression of regional interests at the federal level.

2. The process of political development within the Russian regions (including that of a destructive character) will continue to take place; the Center will have to deal with regional political challenges every now and then. In this respect the main task of the Center should be to keep these challenges within a constitutional framework, to persuade the regions to follow the constitution as the basic law of the state.

3. It is important to develop a genuine political centrism in Russia’s political culture. This cannot be reached soon. Centrism remains unusual in the current state of Russian political culture.

The centrist approach can be described as pragmatic. It assumes that people and their attitudes toward life are different, that an immanent characteristic of the world is its imperfection. Centrists do not rush to change the world according to a model they consider infallible. This is also true for federalists, who proceed from the world’s diversity. Because of this similarity, centrists are potential supporters of federal and regional concepts. The „party of regions", which I described above, is one of the first phenomena demonstrating the establishment of centrism in Russia.

4. The political course of creating a federative state should be strongly supported by economic policies. Besides general tasks such as combatting the rate of inflation, regional aspects are particularly important.

a. A deep reform of the system of tax distribution between the Center and the regions is needed. Strict measures alone, introduced by the President and the government, do not correct the situation. From the outset, taxes collected in the regions should be divided into local and federal allocations. In addition, the federal taxes should be determined through consultations between the federal bodies and each region. This is not easy, but it would make the system of tax distribution more flexible and reasonable, and therefore easier for the regions to accept. Otherwise, this field will constantly generate conflict between the Center and the regions.

b. An all-Russian concept of economic policy must be shaped and implemented. This problem is so important that it merits a separate study. Decades of underestimating the role of regional policy have led to huge gaps in the levels of socio-economic development among Russia’s regions. In recent years these gaps have widened drastically due to the general deterioration of the economic situation. This contributes a great deal to the „asymmetry" of Russia’s federation.

In forming Russia’s regional policy concept, the very first priority should be given to stimulating investment for infrastructure. The further weakening of the links of communication can cause Russia to fall apart, like the patchwork of an old quilt, far faster than all the „separatist" movements in the regions.

For Russia today, federalism is not only a desireable course of political evolution, but an imperative. If Russia is to develop into a robust democracy, federalism as a territorial form of democracy is inevitable. Establishing democracy in the regions, giving them political competences and merging them into one state - only this way corresponds to Russia’s natural historical development. Any other course would run counter to it.

© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition fes-bibliothek | 9.1. 1998

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