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Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

October 17, 2001
Sergei Markov: "The Enlargement of Agencies is Politics" A fundamental administrative reform will be its logical continuation
By Sergei Markov

For many, the elimination of the Ministry for Federation Affairs, National and Migration Policy was unexpected. Yet, the attentive observer could have anticipated such a step, since it is fully consistent with the policy pursued by the Putin administration.

First, this implies the shaping out of a European, liberal type of government, a kind of "night-watchman" government rather than a socialist government.

This being the case, Sergei Markov foresees the enlargement of agencies. Several powerful ministries will come into being. First of all, their job will be to hammer out a set of rules that will be obligatory for all agencies. Such ministries will no longer be charged with handling momentary problems. In connection with this, all domestic affairs, not only related to maintaining law and order, will gradually be concentrated in the Interior Ministry.

Second, perhaps we have not noticed this, but we are now living in a new situation, in which there is no longer a threat that Russia could disintegrate.

Previously, it was the job of the Ministry for Federation Affairs to avert such a threat. To this end, officials, on behalf of a weak federal center, signed treaties with "strong" regions, first of all, with national republics. Such treaties gave the republics exclusive rights so that they would not split away from the federal center.

However, what we are talking about now is the question of abrogating treaties between the federal center and the regions. And that is the reason why the Ministry for Federation Affairs - as a separate agency for averting the disintegration of Russia - is being eliminated.

However, this does not imply that there are no federative matters to attend to. Such matters really do exist, but they lie on an absolutely different level.

The majority of federative problems have transpired into inter-budgetary relations. On the one hand, federative relations constitute a problem of dividing authority among bodies of power at different levels. And there are all indications that this work will be upgraded.

A deep-running and fundamental administrative reform will be its logical culmination.

What Russia needs is an efficient state administrative body - something that it does not have today.

Third, since Russia remains a multinational country, in the sense that many nationalities reside in the country, it must strive for greater unification of its legal, economic and political environment. With this goal in mind, Russia must work to create a more liberal internal environment, without semi-feudal barriers. It is precisely the latter that lowers the status of national-state formations.

According to the international yardstick, Russia is a multinational state since Russians make up 83% of its population. It is even more ethnically monolithic than France, Germany, Turkey and many other European countries. This idea is also reflected in the president's decision.

It is quite another matter that Russia traditionally offers unprecedented opportunities for the development of different nationalities, including their language, education in a given language, as well as quotas for different nationalities to enroll at colleges and universities. Nothing of the sort is seen in the majority of other countries.

All such opportunities for the development of different nationalities must, of course, be preserved. However, this must be ensured not by a separate Ministry for Nationality Affairs, but rather through the work of all ministries in that direction.

It is for that purpose that there will be a minister to coordinate the work of federal executive bodies for implementing the nationalities policy.

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