Conference e-mail

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki

Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Ilia Chalov (Tver State University, Russia)

Perspectives of Russian Regional Politics: Between Loyalty and Local Interests

The first decade of XXI century is associated with a period of centralization in Russian regional politics. Nevertheless, this centralization and somewhere even political unification had nothing to do with regional diversity. Economical, cultural, demographic cleavages became even more dramatic than they were in the 1990s. The most important instrument of Putin’s regional policy was the redistribution of the oil rent. The system “Allegiance-for-Budget transfers” was established throughout the period. Behind the centralization there was a convention: most regions could not survive without rent redistribution and Moscow was one and only agent to do that. On the other hand, holding the “lootable” resources “Donors” were interested in political stability more than anybody else. The awareness made regional elites swallow without any protest everything that Moscow had for them including Federation Council and Budget reforms and the abolition of the election of governors. The crisis of the market of hydrocarbons raises the question of the revision of this system One of the significant characteristics of Putin’s regime is the predominance of informal practices and communications. All the constitutional institutions of mutual influence between the Center and the Regions were deliberately emasculated. A certain crisis of this informal system appeared in case of the 2016 elections. Despite all the signs and signals from Moscow some regions – primarily national republics – decided not to leave the experienced practice of excessive fraud. Now, when the crisis in regional policy is obvious, Kremlin is trying to develop the system of manual control instead of its institutionalization. The greatest attention is paid to military and police instruments of control and centralization. Under the circumstances, regional diversity will inevitably reveal its political aspect and this process will determine the development of the Federation in the years.