The Republic of Mordovia rarely gets into federal news for good reasons. Now everyone is discussing the forest fires raging there. Prior to that, the focus was on the stadium built for the 2018 World Cup, which there is simply no one to go to in Saransk, and which from next year will completely hang on the already poor republican budget.
But the main thing that we know about Mordovia is that the region’s debts have been twice (!) Higher than the revenues of its budget for many years in a row. Who is to blame and what to do?
In fact, the republic is in a pre-bankruptcy state. The locals are already tired of joking that in the 13th region (this is the code assigned to it by federal legislation) it cannot be otherwise. Leaders change, and everyone just asks for help from the federal center. But this was not always the case! How did the region come to such a sad state?
Red director and his “heir”
Former, we will not be afraid of this word, “master of Mordovia” Nikolay Merkushkin left the civil service almost four years ago, but his name continues to flash in the news in connection with criminal cases. Merkushkin headed the republic in 1995-2012. Then, for five years, he ruled the Samara region – so much so that after Mordovia, after a while, it added to the list of the most heavily credited Russian regions. In general, this seasoned apparatchik left power not without scandals. But at one time he was able to make a brilliant party career.
From the mid-1970s, Merkushkin moved along the Komsomol line and by the beginning of perestroika had grown to the first secretary of the district committee. He did not advance alone, but together with his faithful comrades, including, for example, Vladimir Volkov. It was Volkov who replaced Merkushkin at the helm of Mordovia in 2012. These two characters, in our opinion, should be the first to bear responsibility for everything that has happened to the republic over the past quarter of a century and continues to happen now.
In the first half of the 1990s, when other former Komsomol leaders privatized factories and oil rigs, Nikolai Merkushkin’s team essentially took over the whole region. Small and poor, but “own”. All of them in an instant became ardent anti-communists, but they did not abandon ideological exercises. It was Merkushkin who authored the slogan “Order. Agreement. Creation “. But this is so, little things.
Under the leadership of Nikolai Merkushkin and Vladimir Volkov For a quarter of a century, the Republic of Mordovia has, as it were, passed a historical path of 500 years. Judge for yourself: in 1986, a member of the Central Committee of the CPSU Boris Yeltsin, the future first president of Russia, awarded the Mordovian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic with another order in connection with the 500th anniversary of the unity of the Mordovian people with Russia and, as was customary then, called for the fight against drunkenness. And 25 years later, under Merkushkin and Volkov, the republic canceled the 1000th anniversary of unity with the peoples of Russia. Apparently, this somersault, like other similar undertakings, served one single purpose – to consolidate in the eyes of the federal center the image of Mordovia as a kind of appanage principality: “we are with you, but on our own”.
At least, they ruled the region in the same way as the red directors of half-dead factories – an endless crisis, the people are almost out of bread and butter, but they have their own bosses. Then everything was up: banks, enterprises, budgetary flows. Now this business empire based on power is rapidly collapsing, burying relatives, children, ministers, and deputies under it. And it looks like it is crumbling into carefully outstretched hands.
In the fall of 2020, Vladimir Volkov finally resigned, according to official reports – “of his own free will.” A 43-year-old was sent to settle the situation in Mordovia Artem Zdunova, who previously headed the government of the Republic of Tatarstan. Nine months have passed since then. What has changed during this time? Almost nothing! More and more often, one can hear the opinion from local residents that the acting head of the region, together with his team, is continuing the course of Merkushkin – Volkov, while simultaneously redistributing benefits in the interests of the “new elite”. Some are even afraid that it will not get worse!
No money, but banks were
Despite the fact that Mordovia is one of the smallest and poorest regions of Russia, several local banks operated in it until recently. Apparently, after the separation from power of the Merkushkin clan, they did not have long to live. At the end of June, the Central Bank revoked the license from Aktiv-Bank, 20.12% of which belonged to the son of the former head of the region, Alexander Merkushkin. A couple of weeks before that, his brother Alexei became a defendant in a criminal case for bribing an employee of the regulator.
And in August, after Aktiv-Bank, KS Bank collapsed, which was believed to be under the control of Vladimir Gribanov, the chairman of the Mordovian State Assembly Committee on Economic Policy, Entrepreneurship and Property. According to the Central Bank, the activities of “KS Bank” were focused on serving the interests of owners and related firms, which accounted for a significant part of the loan portfolio. At the same time, more than 50% of the debts of such companies were bad loans, but the bank’s top managers were engaged in “artificial improvement of financial performance and concealment of their real financial position.” The bank pretended to the last that everything was in order. At the end of June, the newspaper Stolitsa S, obviously lured by the Merkushkins, published an article stating that it is “the most dynamically developing regional bank”. And then he “burst”.
The situation looks like the management of “KS Bank” simply withdrawn depositors’ money to affiliated organizations. Now residents of Mordovia, including pensioners, whose accounts were blocked overnight, have to almost trample in lines waiting for compensation from the DIA. What is the role of the acting head of the republic in this story? In the public plane – none. But it is unlikely that important decisions in the financial sphere of the region are made without agreement with him. And if so, then there is a question: what have you been waiting for all this time?
And one more question: how will the story with the revocation of the license from KS Bank affect the position of Mr. Gribanov, one of the most high-status representatives of the “Komsomol faction” in the republican establishment (in the Soviet era – the second secretary of the Saransk city committee, the first secretary of the Lenin district committee of the Komsomol)? It is unlikely that all this will somehow affect the unsinkable functionary. By the way, his son, Alexey Gribanov now serves as the Minister of Economic Development of Mordovia. Under the new head of the region, who publicly asks for help from the federal center.
This is probably why the promises of a decent life, sounding from the mouth of Artyom Zdunov, are now perceived in Mordovia without much enthusiasm. People see and understand everything. And the tendencies that took shape even under Merkushkin have not gone anywhere. We mean the rapid outflow of the population from the republic. From the Soviet almost 800 thousand people remained. It is not surprising, because in terms of the average salary, Mordovia is among the worst in the Volga Federal District. Large factories, once all-Union flagships, are rapidly disappearing from the industrial map of the republic. Once, Mordovia was justly proud that every fourth light bulb in the country was produced by Lisma. Now “Lisma” is practically extinguished, and the region, thanks to the efforts of the federals, froze one step away from the pre-bankruptcy state.
For all that, there is a feeling that Artyom Zdunov is talking much more not about the development of industry, but about tourist clusters in places that this summer, apparently, burned along with the forests. Against the background of fires and a feeling of complete hopelessness in Saransk, one can more and more often hear the old rumor returning about the imminent liquidation of Mordovia as an independent administrative-territorial unit.
No power, no opposition
You may ask: what about the September elections? The election campaign in Mordovia is already in full swing. Everything, as under Merkushkin, has not changed. This is evidenced by the so-called primaries, that is, primary elections within the United Russia party. According to the sources, public sector workers were rounded up to a voluntary vote by administrative methods. However, as in a number of other regions of Russia, you cannot trample on traditions.
The acting head of the region in the current conditions, heads the list of local United Russia, and, apparently, made a bet not on “production workers”, but on people who are very far from solving economic problems. it Natalia Moskvitinaanti-abortion, and Julia Ogloblina, Chairman of the Russian Union of Rural Youth. Not without the influence of Zdunov, they are received with a bang by the regional heads of administrations, although in Mordovia, rural youth do not know about any RCCM, they dream of fleeing the region, and women are giving birth less and less, since medicine in some villages has been optimized until it is completely closed. Yes, and the covid walks in all …
In general, the clip of Mordovian candidates for deputies looks very dull. Only one-mandate person stands out Dmitry Kuzyakin, lieutenant colonel, successful businessman, candidate of economic sciences, 10 years working in Mordovia. But he is from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, whom his party comrades for some reason put only the third in the regional list. Ahead a certain comrade Filatova, unknown to anyone in the district, is clearly not the right candidate for the triumph of communism.
So, the prospects for Mordovia are very vague. In the best case – two or three years of confusion, on the sly – redistribution of property, departure of temporary workers. At worst – the final collapse of the region and the “division” of its territories between neighboring subjects of the federation. Back in 2016, when the State Duma and the Federation Council once again began to discuss the idea of consolidating regions, the deputy Sergey Kalashnikov suggested that it would be possible to unite Mordovia, Chuvashia and Mari El into one economically strong region that does not have a national color.
Literally the other day, without much ado, the annexation of a part of the territory of the Temnikovsky district of Mordovia to the city of Sarov (which is under the administrative subordination of the Nizhny Novgorod region) began. Has the process started? How else, if telling the head of state about the “individual program for the development of Mordovia, which is aimed at increasing incomes and creating new jobs,” Artyom Zdunov, as almost a key project, spoke not about the construction of a new plant, but about plans for growing in the republic 100 thousand roses.