Federalism and Regionalism in Contemporary Russia




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Federalism and Regionalism
in Contemporary Russia

by Igor Kossikov, expert of State Duma
Professor at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology
This speech has been pronounced during the Thirteenth International Seminar European Union, Federalism and International Democracy, hold in Ventotene on September 1st-8th 1996

Issues of federalism are today and will for a long time remain critical for the political and economic life of Russia. The contemporary Russian state is a special type of a federation which knows no analogues in the world. It emerged as a result of the disintegration of the USSR, on the basis of its largest republic which had no sovereignty before. Having adopted the Declaration of sovereignty in 1990 and elected its own president, Russia became an independent state and a subject of international law. At the same time, it inherited its internal structure from the Soviet era - the division into administrative territories and ethnic (nation) state formations, as well as the formal title "the Russian Federation", although it was a unitary state de facto as of the moment of adopting the Declaration.


The entire development of Russia starting from 1990 until today has been a complicated transitional period the transformation of a unitary state into a real federation. State reform coincided with systemic reforms - the transition to democracy and market economy throughout the entire former Soviet Union, and Russian in particular. That represents one of the key differences in the emergence of the model of Russian federalism. This fact accounts for special difficulties of this process.
In the course of 6 years (1990-1996) the Russian Federation (RF) has gone through several phases in its transformation. Let me briefly remind the reader of them:

  1. 1990-1992 (until March) - the so-called parade of sovereignties. During that period the ethnic formations within Russia (former autonomous republics and okrugs) sought to upgrade their political status, to win recognition as independent republics as a part of the RF. Movements for sovereignty were led by the republics of Tatarstan, Bashkorostan, Yakutia and others. At the same time the national idea, the idea of the restoration of ethnic states, language and culture clearly prevailed. It was by all means promoted by small-scale ethnic movements and was taken up by local and regional political elites which sought to retain power under new conditions or obtain power from the hands of former party nomenklatura. In 1991-1992 there existed a real threat of ethnic separatism, a split of the unified country, and because the trend of decentralizing power obviously dominated, and the power of the Center was extremely unstable.

  2. The Federation Treaty concluded in March 1992 served to overcome the increasing ethnic separatism. It presented the maximum possible compromise of the central authorities and regional ruling elites as of the moment of its conclusion, and preserved the unity and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation within its historical borders. The time from March 31 1992 until December 1993 is the first period when the RF existed on this new legal basis. The Treaty failed to satisfy both unitarists and separatists. although it played the positive role of dividing authority within the Russian Federation for the first time, albeit not fully. Two republics within Russia - Tatarstan and Chechnya - did not sign the Federation Treaty in March ~992, having seriously challenged the territorial integrity of Russia. They proclaimed themselves fully independent states which were not a part of the federation. Chechnya's location on the border worsened the situation by presenting the possibility of real secession. The location of Tatarstan in the very center of the RF's territory made the chance of its "secession" from the Federation rather problematic. In 1992. neither republic suggested any formulas for coexistence with the unified federation. The formulations that they used were very vague. especially from the viewpoint of the international law -phrases "together with Russia, but from without". For this reason, the federal authorities did not recognize independence of Tatarstan and Chechnya and instead considered them inseparable parts of a unified Russia. The period after the Federation Treaty was been signed only partially eased the separatist trends in Russia. A number of the republics signed the Treaty, but ensured the legal priority of their republican constitutions on their territory Russia entered a true legal crisis, for the RF had no Constitution of its own, and it regions adopted their own Constitutions without prior consent from each other and the Center. This process affected not only the republics, but oblasts and other administrative territories in the RF, which also sought the upgrading of their status and the recognition of their rights equal to the republics. Constitutions of their own (the Statutes of the obalsts) began to appear, and there were attempts to proclaim independent states ( The Ural republics, Far Eastern republic). Although in contrast to the republics, the oblasts did not use ethnic slogans in their movement for greater independence of the Center and autonomy, there emerged a threat of Russia's disintegration, division into regions.

  3. The time after December 1993. when the Constitution of the RF was adopted, was the third period. The Federation Treaty, or, more precisely, its main provision, became a part of the Constitution. In line with the Treaty, the Constitution secures the composition of the federation: 89 members (in the Constitution of the RF they are referred to as the "subjects of the federation"). Among them there are 21 republics, 6 krais, 49 oblasts, 10 autonomous okrug, 1 autonomous oblast and 2 cities of federal significance. Two types of the subjects can be identified - nation-state formations, i.e. the members of the federation which have the attributes of independent states (these are all republics) and administrative territorial formations (krais, oblasts, cities - Moscow and St. Petersburg). At present independent subjects of various kind are referred to as "regions" in academic works and political practice.

The relations along the axis Center - regions (89 subjects), i.e. between the all-federal bodies of power and administration. on the one hand. and the leaders of the regions. on the other hand. represent the main factor behind the stability and effective development of the country.
The process of division of power between the bodies of federal and regional authorities was not completed by the adoption of Constitution in 1993. It is still under way and is being corrected by political, social and economic reforms in Russia. The transformation of the Russian Federation is far from being complete. We find ourselves at yet another transitional stage when the prospects of the future state system and the mechanisms of its functioning are not entirely clear.
Discussions between the adherents of various models of Russian federalism who have different views on the status of this or that region within the model have not quieted. There is a provincial model (in Russian - gubernia) or unitary-provincial. In accordance with this model, Russia would be divided into provinces roughly equal in size (the territories which would be analogous to German lands or American states), not taking into consideration the ethnic composition of the peoples living on these territories or their social and cultural orientations. The opponents of dividing Russian into provinces, on the contrary, tend to see the current asymmetrical federation as an absolute and categorically deny the possibility of allocating equal political rights to republics and oblast's - this is a nationalist-federalist model. Theoreticians of federalism in general claim that contemporary multisubject federation will not last long as administration is too difficult. These skeptics think that in the future, the number of independent regions in Russia will decrease as the regions themselves grow larger. Current interregional associations formed as an instrument of cooperation for neighbouring territories which are closely related one to another geographically and economically are seen as prototypes of future Russian regions. There are associations such as Chernozemie (oblasts of central Russia;), the Urals, the Volga region, the Siberian agreement, etc.
As of today the Russian Federation seems to be still a long way from any of these three models. It maintains its unique features:
- it consists of many subjects and is difficult to administer, with tensions emerging not between the republics and oblasts, but between national okrugs which are a part of the number of oblasts. For instance, there are two ethnic okrugs on the territory of Tyumen oblast: Yamalo-Nenetz and Khanty-Mansi. All three formations are equal subjects of federation, according to the Constitution of the RF. However, it is unclear to whom the natural resources of these territories - oil and gas - belong as of today, i.e. the issues of property have not been fully resolved. There are quite a few of such cases.
- Federative relations in Russia are still formed by means of delegating proxies "from the top down", i.e. from the federal bodies of power and administration to the regional ones. Opposite examples, when the territories delegate their proxies to the Center, are extremely uncommon. In this sense, Russia has so far preserved the strong features of a unitary state with the elements of a federation. But a certain unitarism seems to be saving the country from turning into a confederation.
- In equalities in the rights of the subjects now are being evened out by means of bilateral treaties between the executive federal authority and the administration of the regions. It has become customary to talk about a Russian Federation that is built on constitutional and contractual relations.
The treaties that the Center has concluded with the regions are meant to deal with the political and legal problems which arise in their relations - in the sphere of differentiating the areas of responsibility and adopting the decisions of federal bodies of the state authority and the bodies of authority in the regions. The first treaty was signed with the Republic of Tatarstan (RT) in February of 1994, it put an end to the disputed relations between the federal authorities with this republic. It partially smoothed over the contradictions and discrepancies between the Constitution of the RF and the Constitution of the RT. A package of mostly economic was appended to the Treaty. Currently (August 1996) more than 20 treaties with the subjects of federation have been signed. notably. not just with the republics. but with oblasts and krais. Treaties with the republics of Tatarstan. Bashkortostan, Kabardino-Balkaria, North Ossetia, etc. were the first to be signed. as for the oblasts, they were Sverdlovsk oblast, Krasnodarsky krai, Kaliningradsky and Orenburgsky oblast.. The treaties on the differentiation of the issues of administration and mutual delegation of power between the federal authority and the subjects of the RF are a new formula for relations within the framework of the federation. They conform with Article II of the Constitution of the RF and at the same time it considerably broaden the legal framework for the activity of the regions.
Such a resolution of internal federal problems found many opponents among lawyers, fiananciers and economists. The lawyers believe that the treaties with the subjects of the federation violate the single legal place created by the Russian Constitution. Financiers and businessmen express their doubts whether the practice of concluding treaties will complicate the process of conducting economic reforms according to common "rules of the game" for the whole country. Undoubtedly, there are certain controversial aspects. However, life has proven that the treaties, even not quite perfect, are better that open confrontation which developed into the war with Chechnya.
The practice of concluding bilateral treaties between the center and the regions, initially of a limited character, being 'trial" or "experimental" as in the case with Tatarstan will be broadened in the nearest future. However it will not cover all 89 subjects, dealing only, according to our prognosis, with a number of problem regions. Preparatory work to adopt the federal Law "On the general principles of differentiating the issues of administration and proxies between the bodies of state authority of the Russian Federation" is under way now. It will stipulate unified demands to the process of concluding treaties, will lead to the unification of approaches in this matter, for until now the developers of the treaties and agreements have acted on the basis of the President of the RF's decrees.
Along with political and legal problems. the treaties and agreements deal with the economic issues of the Center's interaction with the regions In this respect four groups of problems can be identified:

  1. budget and tax relations within the framework of the federation;

  2. the differentiation of property rights of the subjects. which has turned into an area of conflict in the course of privatization;

  3. the rights of the regions and Center in foreign economic relations (customs and currency regimes, border cooperation);

  4. the mechanism of distribution of federal budget aid to regions in crisis and depression. levelling of economic and social conditions of development through regional policy.

Today there is undoubtedly a common trend in political and economic life of Russia -a gradual delegation of authority from the top to below, the growth of the independence of the Russian regions. At the same time, after the stage of "sovereignization" which became especially noticeable in the republics, there seems to have been a marked sobering both in the Center and in the republics. The regional elites realized that quite often they were not capable of carrying out market reforms without the assistance of the Center and close interregional cooperation. The Center, in turn, has recognized the danger of absolutizing regional peculiarities, which leads to the destruction of the territorial integrity of the country.


The majority of experts who have studied the problems of modern state systems in Russia and various aspects of Russian federalism agree that at present the separatism of certain subjects of the Federation, especially national separatism has to a large extent been overcome (with the exception of Chechnya). At the same time, economic regionalism has become more pronounced, the development of different regions in Russia are becoming more and more differentiated. Although this differentiation existed from the start in such fields as natural resources, climate, demography, social, economic and ethnic spheres, the very course of the reforms has intensified it. Regions with varied economic specializations have demonstrated different abilities to adapt to new market conditions, and, naturally, their economic and political interest are quite diverse. It is absolutely necessary for the Center to take this fact into consideration in order to prevent sharp contrasts in the standards of living, income and rates of economic development between the regions.
At present the following are recognized as the principal goals of federal policy. of which regional policy is a part: the defense and maintenance of the interests of the Russian Federation on a whole, maintaining the integrity of its territory, as well as the integrity of its legal and economic space. In reality, the range of authority of federal structures to ensure the defense of the interests of the Federation without infringing upon the rights and the independence of the subjects granted by the Constitution remains to be determined.
The most complicated issue in the formation of the Russian Federation is Chechnya. This is related to both the history of the Chechen people and to serious mistakes of the current Russian leadership in its ethnic policy. There appear to be two mutually exclusive views on the role and status of Chechnya. In the view of Moscow leaders, Chechnya is an integral part of Russia, one of the subjects of the federation, whereas for the Chechens, or at least for their vast majority, the republic is an independent state. The Chechen Republic, in their belief , determines the fate of its own people on its own but retains close ties with Russia.
Chechnya adopted a Declaration of state sovereignty back in 1990 and during all the subsequent years under D.Dudayev's regime attempted to uphold independence, not having signed any treaties with the RF, not taking part in referendums on the Russian Constitution, etc. In the language of lawyers, Chechnya remained within the legal space of Russia but functioned by its own laws. At the same time, it had open borders with Russia, used Russian currency, and enjoyed freedom of travel for its citizens and other advantages of a common economic space.
Surprising as it may seem, Russia was extremely tolerant of Dudayev's regime and the freedom of his actions for about four years, although it failed to recognize him in the legal sense. Experts find it difficult to explain much of the bilateral relations between Moscow and Grozny in 1991-1994. Undoubtedly there is a background. hidden policy of either certain influential persons or groups of people with their economic interests. It is precisely due to this that Chechnya has in fact turned into a criminal zone. a shadow economy on the territory of Russia. In Chechnya itself, there were many opponents of Dudayev's regime under his rule, an opposition formed among politicians and common people who advocated the preservation of former ties between the republic and the RF. The talks between the Center and Chechnya on a bilateral treaty and resolving the issue of the republic's status were slow and regularly interrupted.
The military actions started in December of 1994 by federal troops have only led to the consolidation of a majority of the Chechen people against the federal Center. The extreme cruelty of this war erased the line between the opponents and proponents of independence, having united all people in their struggle for independence as they understand it (often an idealistic concept). Today it is obvious that this problem does not have a military solution. The prospects for Chechnya's future are still unclear. One of the versions of a possible resolution would be to giving the republic a status that no other Russian territory had ever had. Such a formula would mean the following: Russia recognizes Chechnya's independence, while Chechnya remains a part of Russia tinder a special protectorate. In this respect, there is a possibility that the Chechens in the future will demand a broader international representation and might claim admission to the UN. Until now, the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria has not been recognized in the international sense. The Chechen leaders have already made attempts to make their power in Chechnya legitimate, in particular, by having turned to the Organization of Unrepresented Peoples.
In the coming years the world public and international institutions may face the necessity to either resolve or at least consider the issue of the participation of several republics which are a part of the RF in international organizations. The Republic of Tatarstan, for instance, which used to regard itself as the "independent state, associated with Russia" would like to have an independent representative in the UN. So far it seeks to broaden its presence in the EC and other European economic organizations. In the future, this and other problems will need to be taken into account when dealing with the whole complex of issues related to reforming the UN.



Raphael Khakimov.

Path Forward for the Russian Federation.

After four years of debate and inconclusive results, the problems of regional policy and ethnic relations have now come to the fore of the political agenda in the Russian Federation. The 1993 Constitution left the issue of state structure far from resolved. There has been no effective institution for implementing ethnic and regional policy (the Russian Ministry for Nationalities and Regional Policy has had four different heads in three years). The leadership in Moscow has declared a clear commitment to federalism. In the current situation, however, ill-conceived attempts in the area of regional and ethnic policy might result in a backtrack to unitarism and a compromise of democratic values in an effort to strengthen central state control.

There is a dilemma at the heart of the problem: the current Russian Federation was constituted on the basis of a mix of some ethnically-based and some purely administrative territories. In the modem world, from the point of view of protecting the right of all citizens regardless of their race or ethnic affiliation, it is in principle more desirable for a state to replace the ethno-territorial principle with the concept of "co-citizenship," as was mentioned in President Yeltsin's annual address.

A multitude of ethnic problems have been engendered by the contradictory nature of two principles which, from the very beginning, were established as the basis of the structure of the Russian Federation: the ethno-territorial principle and the administrative-territorial principle. This becomes clear today as a redistribution of functions and powers is taking place between the federal government and subjects of the Federation. Under present conditions, a historical necessity for both principles to co-exist persists. At the same time the contradiction between them will diminish on the basis of a new notion of the nation as co-citizenship (sograzhdanstvo). which is enshrined in the Constitution.1

If the Russian Federation had states (US), or Lands (Germany), or governorships (Tsarist Russia) instead of ethnic republics, the argument goes, then the federal government would be in a better position to protect the civil and political rights of all citizens regardless of their ethnicity.

But the current state structure of the Russian federation is ≈ like it or not ≈ a historical reality. On the face of it, the current structure seems absurd in many ways: there are some ethnic republics that have a majority of the local ethnic group and a strong sense of national identity (Tatarstan), while others, such as the Republic of Sakha-Yakutia which have a majority of Russians (50% of the population) and a minority of the titular ethnic group (33%). The creation of many of these ethnic republics was part of a Stalinist policy of dividing and co-opting local and national elites. There are also some non-ethnic subjects of the Federation, such as Lipetsk Oblast, which relative to others is small and economically less significant.

Even if it were in principle desirable to move toward "co-citizenship" as the key principle for organizing the complex state structure of the Russian Federation, what strategy would produce this outcome and over how much time? Over what period must this be done in order not to threaten overall political stability? How can existing ethnic groups be accommodated ?

Some regions pose a particular challenge. Though the Russian Federation is 82% Russian, there are a few regions with a majority non-Russian population and a history of their own governing structures. These regions were incorporated into the Russian empire by conquest (Tatarstan, North Caucasus). These regions might be compared to Quebec, a French-speaking region conquered by the English in the eighteenth century. In the Volga-Ural region today, Russians account for 44% of the population, while the share made up by indigenous ethnic groups is growing. The peoples of the North Caucasus are not only an ethnic mosaic but they differ dramatically from other groups in Russia in terms of worldview, value systems and social structures, particularly in the persistence of clan identities. The religious factor is also important: against the background of the Chechen conflict, Islam as the dominant religion in the North Caucasus currently reinforces existing ethnic cleavages with the traditionally Orthodox Russians. Islam is also the dominant religion of Tatarstan, though it has not been a significant factor in political developments to date.

It was precisely in these two regions that Moscow has had the greatest difficulty in its efforts to build a new Federation. Tatarstan and Chechnya were the only two republics that refused to sign the Federation Treaty of March 1992, which the leadership in Moscow saw as an effort to preserve the integrity ≈ and stem the possible breakdown ≈ of the Russian Federation in the face of the "parade of sovereignties." Bashkortostan, a Republic bordering Tatarstan that has more Tatars and Russians than Bashkirs, signed with specific reservations. There are other areas with special historical circumstances such as Tyva (an independent state until 1944). They signed the Federation Treaty but still represent problematic cases.

In order to clarify the relations of Tatarstan and Chechnya with the federal center, Moscow proposed to sign treaties with these two regions that did not sign the Federation Treaty. Vice Premier Sergei Shakhrai has recently stated that the following principles guided their actions:

∙ To sign framework treaties only with those subjects of the Russian Federation that were not party to the 1992 Federation Treaty;

∙ To sign in advance concrete agreements on critical questions of social and economic policy;

∙ To rely on the results of a legal analysis of the corresponding constitutions, laws and other normative acts of the Federal Constitution and laws of Russia;

∙ Not to allow any specific subject of the Federation to obtain any "special" status not envisaged by the Constitution of the Russian Federation or leading to infringement of the rights of other subjects of the Federation.2

In actual fact, the federal leadership was so preoccupied with critical problems of economic and political reform, as well as internal power struggles (where regional support in the form of the Council of Heads of the Republics was used by President Yeltsin in his battle with the old parliament), that some actions may have been more improvisations or dictated by Realpolitik than by the above listed principles stated ex post facto.

In practice, Moscow in large part signed treaties with those regions that were well-organized and powerful ≈ politically and economically ≈ and where the internal political situation was particularly complex, involving a risk of destabilization or separatism. Tatarstan was a case of a powerful and well-organized republic where accommodation of President Shaimiev could guarantee internal stability and the moderation of extreme nationalist groups within Tatarstan. Moreover, Tatarstan possessed significant oil resources, developed industry and trained personnel. Republics and regions that were net contributors to the federal budget were in a stronger bargaining position vis-a-vis Moscow and many managed to stray farther and exercise a greater degree of independence. On the other hand, subsidized regions sought to garner more resources from the Center by "behaving themselves" to a greater degree.

After three years of serious negotiations and the signing of twelve specific agreements, Moscow signed a Treaty with Tatarstan in February 1994. At that time (in contrast to his current position), Sergei Shakhrai stated that Moscow was ready to sign similar treaties with any subject of the Federation that was willing to follow the same process. He specifically mentioned Chechnya, but negotiations with General Dudayev, a nationalist leader, failed and resulted in the current tragic outcome.

Subsequently, Moscow did sign a treaty with Bashkortostan in the Volga region (August 1994). In the North Caucasus, though no agreement was reached with General Dudayev in Chechnya, Moscow did sign a treaty with Kabardino-Balkaria (November 1994) and North Ossetia (March 1995). President Yeltsin personally supported these cases, but Sergei Shakhrai, representing the government Commission on Preparation of Intra-State Treaties, sent a memorandum to President Yeltsin right afterwards recommending that the process of signing treaties be stopped immediately. Those standing in line to sign a treaty include Udmurtia in the Volga region; Dagestan; Ingushetia and Karachaevo-Cherkessia in the North Caucasus; the Republic of Sakha-Yakutia (Far East) and the Kaliningrad Oblast.

Again, we see a dilemma for the federal leadership. What if all 89 subjects of the Russian Federation want to sign a separate treaty with Moscow? This would seem to threaten the very basis of a coherent federation. Some experts argue that a federation can be asymmetrical and give special status to a few select subjects, but not all subjects. Moreover, businessmen do not want to have special laws in each region that might contradict federal legislation. There is a need for a standard legal framework for market relations to develop effectively.

At the same time, federal authorities cannot simply abolish the existing state structure without serious risk of destabilization. Shakhrai has proposed that "territorial-administrative reforms be conducted before the June 1996 elections." The most influential republican leader. President Shaimiev, has been highly critical of this proposal and has warned publicly that altering the situation with the Treaty would "result in long-term destabilization of the Russian Federation. Citizens of the Republic of Tatarstan would most definitely boycott elections to the Federal Assembly as well as the Russian Presidency, as they did once already."3

The challenge, then, relates to finding a strategy to achieve over time a coherent centralized government with a healthy degree of decentralization and accommodation of ethnic groups. What is an appropriate degree of devolution of power in the Russian Federation? We must keep in mind that the degree of local autonomy that obtained by Tatarstan, the leader in the effort to devolve power to the local regions, is still on all counts less than any US state such as California or Montana.4 From the perspective of the traditionally highly centralized Soviet/Russian state, however, the degree of local sovereignty obtained by Tatarstan may seem significant.

Though there are some common principles of federal relations, every federative country has its unique experience such that the German model differs substantially from the Canadian model. The experience of the United States or Switzerland cannot be mechanically transplanted to Russian soil. At the same time it would be misguided not to glean valuable lessons from the experience of other countries, m doing so one has to bear in mind such peculiarities of Russia as its vast size, economic capacity and ethnic and cultural diversity. Russia has a particularly complex historical legacy as a result of its imperial conquests and the arbitrary territorial divisions and deportations of the totalitarian Soviet period. As noted, there is also a complex political process underway in Russian Federation today as it undergoes a political and economic transition of unprecedented proportions. Any approach would need to take into account the mentality and political culture of Russian society, the nature and character of existing and evolving institutions, as well as their current capacity to grow and develop democratically.

In an effort to summarize the challenge, the following two primary goals can be stated. First, there is a need to achieve a federation in Russia that is ultimately coherent, stable and democratic, providing equal rights for all subjects. Simply put, this can be achieved either by pushing down those regions ≈ like Tatarstan ≈ that have already achieved some local decision-making power, or else by raising the status of other subjects, the oblasts and krais, to the level of republics like Tatarstan. President Shaimiev has supported the latter position and sees the status of Tatarstan as a step in the direction of a normal, democratic Russian Federation.

The second main goal is to find ways to accommodate those particularly complex regions where there is a genuinely challenging ethnic situation with special historical circumstances, such as Tatarstan, the North Caucasus, and Tyva. These regions may have a claim to some special arrangement or status, at least in the short-term. Any political plan to eliminate the republics is fraught with destabilizing consequences. For some ethnic groups that were forcibly deported under Soviet rule, the issue of preserving their republics has an existential dimension: it represents a safeguard against the possible recurrence of such tragedies in the future.

There is also the fact that behind the existing republics stand entrenched interests and inertia formed over decades of Soviet rule. There are also new interests formed in the post-Soviet period of redistribution of economic wealth controlled by local authority figures. For all these reasons, any attempt at massive political restructuring entails unpredictable and destabilizing elements.

In order to achieve these two aims, we elaborate an approach below, a step-by-step strategy over five years:

1) Refrain from efforts to cancel the current infra-state treaties, which are pragmatic responses to complex relationships needed to maintain stability in the process of building a new Russian Federation. For the time being, there is a need to give special treatment to particularly difficult cases to allow voluntary integration into the Federation. This is a complex challenge for federal authorities throughout the world. As Donald Horowitz has argued, central government authorities generally believe that devolution of power to regions will lead to secession and the breakdown of the central state, hi fact, however, such devolution can work in favor of moderate leaders and ultimately contribute to a strong federation and preempt secession.

This analysis clearly holds for the case of Tatarstan, where early devolution of power strengthened a moderate leader and basically eliminated the danger of secession, m the case of Chechnya, however, the particular leader who took power. General Dudayev, refused to accept less than total independence; his personal power in Chechen domestic politics depended upon taking an extreme nationalist position. Had a more moderate political leader been in power in Chechnya, Moscow might have succeeded in its effort to sign a Tatarstan-like treaty and thus avoid the current tragedy. The Russian government should make new efforts to sign such a treaty with a representative body of Chechens as a way of ending the current violence and beginning the difficult path of bringing the Chechen Republic back into the Russian Federation.

2) Declare a policy of raising over five years the status of all subjects of the Federation to the level of current republics like Tatarstan, which allows for a local constitution and symbols, election of local leader, and reasonable local decision-making power. These are powers that are normally given to local regions in any modem federation. Some oblasts, such as Nizhny Novgorod and Ekaterinburg, have unilaterally decided to elect their leaders; most heads of administrations are still appointed from Moscow.

3) Over time it is possible to imagine that some existing subjects of the Federation will voluntarily merge and form new subjects through regional economic associations. The principle stimulus should be economic as opposed to political. Rather than endeavoring to destroy old forms, new forms should be created in parallel to the old, allowing the latter to fade away gradually.



1 Boris Yeltsin, "Federalizm I mezhnatsional'noe soglasie" in "Ob ukreplenii Rossiiskogo gosudarstva" Rossiiskaya gazeta. 25 February, 1994, p.4
2 Sergei M. Shakhrai, Official Memorandum to President Boris N. Yeltsin No. 1576 (March 1995).
3 Izvestia Tatarstana. December 23, 1994, p.l.
4 The only exception is possibly the area of military service, where Tatarstan is claiming the right for its young men to serve on the territory of Tatarstan and not to be involved in ethnic conflicts within the Federation. In principle, Tatarstan has declared itself a neutral and nuclear-free zone. As an enclave Tatarstan may be able to maintain some such rights that would be impossible for a border region to claim (federal troops must defend the border), but this is not clear.

 

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