#8 - JRL 7219
June 11, 2003
Moscow and St.Petersburg To Unite
The Kremlin intends to unite major Russian regions
The idea to unite Russian regions is not new, it appeared about three years ago. However, it always remained an idea - only discussions and nothing more. The Buryatia republic wanted to unite with the Irkutsk region, three Russian regions expressed a wish to unite with each other last year - the republic of Khakasia, Taimyr and the Krasnoyarsk region. There were a lot of talks about it, but the story ended up with nothing. The Kremlin decided to save the idea for a while, but it appears that the time has already come.
Russian supreme authorities believe that national units of the Russian Federation are to be transformed into mere cultural autonomies. Moscow has recently offered to initiate referendums in Federation units and to submit changes to the law that would create the economic ground for new territories. Russian senior officials believe that the country's regions are supposed to become larger to optimize the ruling process and to smooth out financial security levels in the regions. In other words, wealthy regions (there are a bit more than ten of them) will have to maintain poor ones.
The regional unification process started with a scandal: the Lipetsk region would takeover Voronezh, Kursk and Tambov regions. The Voronezh region will most likely lose its independence and become just a part of the Lipetsk region together with Kursk and Tambov provinces. That was informed by the press service of the Voronezh city administration.
The Voronezh governor did not like that idea at all, though. The governor believes that the statement from the city administration was simply a piece of the pre-election PR campaign. Local media outlets think that it goes about the war between Voronezh mayor Alexander Kovalev and governor Vladimir Kulakov, since the relations between the two officials have not been fine since the time they took their offices.
Another scandal of a larger scale is about to happen in Russia. The Kremlin's operation to unite Russian regions does not stipulate the abolishment of national regions only. The Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper wrote, the Kremlin's plan included the merger of Moscow and St.Petersburg and their regions. The unification of other regions of the equal status is stipulated as well.