#18 - JRL 7243
Zhirinovskiy Proposes Plan for Russia's Political, Economic Reorganization
26 June 2003
"Russia Asked to Switch from Kamaz Truck to Mercedes"
To amalgamate or to leave everything as it is: 89 Federation components divided into seven districts, each one under the "state's watchful eye," the president's plenipotentiary representatives? The dispute about the new organization of Russia has been going on since 1991 when the Soviet Union disintegrated.
At a recent press conference journalists asked Vladimir Putin about this. The head of state does not deny that the idea of amalgamating the strong territories with the weak could make sense and have prospects although there is no need to rush into this. Before putting an idea into practice it must be considered thoroughly.
Vladimir Zhirinovskiy, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, reacted keenly as always to the president's proposal for reflection: "We have two problems -- either we do everything in too much haste, like the 1917 revolution, or else the whole problem drags on 10 years."
Yesterday he put forward his view of the organization of Russia. The multicolored map of the country that was displayed to journalists was divided into 15 sections. This is the number of gubernias that are being proposed for Russia. With approximately 10 million people in each. The amalgamating territories could be called oblasts although, in the Zhirinovskiy's opinion, the governors-general cannot administer effectively a population larger than this. The state's "cut and stitch" operation will be carried out according to various principles -- geographical, economic, natural, and historical. The North is drawn to the South, the poor unite with the rich, the industrial unite with the agricultural. And they all help one another within the framework of their own amalgamated administrative unit.
Zhirinovskiy has already almost resolved the personnel question as well -- the top posts in these 15 gubernias will be filled by all seven of the president's present plenipotentiary representatives and seven heads of oblasts and kray administrations who are most effective in their own regions: Rossel, Pozgalev, Stroyev, Kulakov, Tolokonskiy, and Ishayev. Zhirinovskiy has still not made up his mind about Moscow and St. Petersburg. It is clear that Valentina Matviyenko is going to be in charge there. The only thing that is unclear is the capacity in which she will take up the new top office -- as governor of St. Petersburg or as the president's plenipotentiary representatives for the North West. Vladimir Putin must make the definitive decision after he is elected for a new term as president. Because the president must appoint the governors, Zhirinovskiy believes, like the mayors of the big cities with more than 500,000 inhabitants.
Zhirinovskiy sees no obstacles to this reorganization of Russia -- just five or six amendments to the constitution and everything is ready: Then the word "Federation" will finally be deleted from our political lexicon along with the other alien, non-Russian words.
The proposal is that the peoples of the reorganized Russia will decide their own national interests within the framework of national-cultural autonomous entities -- they will publish their own newspapers, create academies, and listen to the radio in their national language if the money and the demand for these things are there.
To implement his plan for the reorganization of the country the leader proposes to take advantage of 10 percent of the federal budget -- this is solely during the conversion of the paperwork. There will be fewer deputies and fewer apparatchiks at various levels. Right now we are travelling in a Kamaz truck which is wheezing and scarcely pulling along. But Zhirinovskiy is offering Russia a Mercedes. Which has a speed greater even than a "ptitsa-troyka" (team of three horses - reference to Gogol's Dead Souls)