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Nov 10, 2021
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Moscow decided to take Kazan “according to the law”

Moscow decided to take Kazan

Photo: Press Service of the State Duma of the Russian Federation / TASS

The State Duma is considering the draft law “On the general principles of organizing public power in the constituent entities of the Russian Federation”, which, according to its authors, should develop the provisions of the Constitution on unified public authority and consolidate the principles of work of the authorities of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation.

“This is a huge new law, which just says how they become the head of the subjects of the federation, the governor or the mayor, he can be called, what powers he has. We say that the government is an obligatory organ of the subject of the federation: now there is somewhere, somewhere not. We are talking about the fact that the head can either head the government himself, or appoint an appropriate person. It goes on to say that the President of the Russian Federation may express distrust of the head. New types of responsibility appear, such as a warning or a reprimand, ”said the chairman of the State Duma Committee on State Construction and Legislation. Pavel Krasheninnikov

According to the bill, the ban for governors to be elected for more than two consecutive terms is lifted, and a single term of office is introduced – five years. However, in the future, the question of the number of terms in office of governors will be decided by regional legislative assemblies. The document also provides for mechanisms of responsibility of local deputies.

The controversy was caused by the issue of introducing a common name for all regions of the position of the highest official – “the head of the subject of the Russian Federation.” The parliament of Tatarstan, the only region whose head is called the president, did not support the bill. At the same time, as Krasheninnikov explained earlier, the name of the position of the head of the region is possible, but it cannot contain words and phrases that make up the name of the position of the head of state. He recalled that this restriction has been enshrined in federal law since 2011.

As Krasheninnikov, in turn, explained, the title of the post of the head of a constituent entity of the Russian Federation may also provide for an additional name, taking into account the charter of the region. That is, there will be governors and mayors, with the exception of the word “president” – the bill directly prohibits the use of words and phrases that make up the name of the position of the head of state.

– How the law will operate in practice is always a difficult thing to predict, – believes lawyer Dmitry Agranovsky… – In theory, at least formally, he should increase the responsibility of officials, because the list of powers is expanding, the list of circumstances under which officials can be held accountable. But in reality, few people in our country are held accountable for some failures or flaws.

The main thing that everyone noticed, and what aroused the greatest interest in the press, was the lifting of restrictions on holding positions, in particular, of governors. This is in line with the general outline of traditional values, conservative values, when there is a king, there are boyars, there are draft people, slaves and so on.

Roughly speaking, in line with traditional values, this preserves the current situation. Here who likes what: for those who like the current situation, this law will work, rather, positively, it preserves the current situation; for those who want some kind of progress, development or just a change in the current situation, this law is rather negative.

You can remember the movie “Groundhog Day”, we are now in a time loop, but it is very cool for someone to live in it. It cannot be denied that things are going badly for everyone. For example, people on the Forbes list got rich quite significantly during the pandemic. They are interested in preserving the existing situation. They are our citizens, they have the same right to do so.

“SP”: – In addition to the fact that the governors will be able to hold their chair for an unlimited number of terms, the president will have more leverage over them. And the president appoints an interim in the event of the removal of one or another head of the region. I remember the institute of governorship.

– This system has long been formed, entrenched, branched out. This class, caste system has existed for a long time. This law is its development, but again – who likes what. We already have apologists for serfdom, under which the landowner not only cruelly exploited the peasants, could sell them, but also had to take care of them, protect them from other landowners.

We are now building peripheral, colonial capitalism with large elements of a feudal-estate society. This law is a development of this concept. For me this is categorically unacceptable, but no one asks me. For example, in 1991 I voted for the Soviet Union, like most people, but this did not prevent it from immediately destroying. So it is now: we vote for some in the elections, while completely different ones are represented in the Duma. The stability and continuity of this current government is thus ensured.

This will not lead to anything good: we preserve backwardness, peripherality and secondary nature, and we were the greatest power in the world. But it is not so easy to preserve everything: such a system is very unstable to external influences. You can preserve anything, but the logic of history will dictate something completely different.

Expert of the PRISP Center, Ph.D. Nikolay Ponomarev believes that the need for this law on the part of the elites can be easily explained.

– If a political transition begins in 2024 (and even more so if the Kremlin refuses the idea of ​​rotating a figure in the post of head of state), the administrative vertical should demonstrate maximum stability and controllability.

For this purpose, a unified system of public authority is being created, which provides a legal basis for the actual merging of the state apparatus and the system of local self-government. This reform does not imply any kind of feedback. Rather, it is about strengthening discipline and control. The new law is intended to ensure the consolidation of the administrative apparatus and to minimize the risks of the emergence of “rebellion” within it in response to the emergence of contradictions between the groups of the establishment.

“SP”: – What can the lifting of restrictions on the number of governor’s terms lead to?

– The governors are already the actual “governors” of the Kremlin in the regions. The head of state has a wide range of formal and informal tools to remove governors. At the same time, the president is vested with the prerogative of appointing acting heads of regions.

By itself, being in this position (combined with the support of the federal center) gives an almost one hundred percent guarantee of victory in the elections. De jure being a federation, de facto Russia remains a unitary state. The new law will not introduce fundamental changes in the relationship between the governors and the federal center. It will only expand and consolidate the rights that the Kremlin already has to control power on the ground.

“SP”: – Refusal of Tatarstan to support the bill will not lead to tension between the federal center and the republic if the law is adopted?

– The luxury of disobeying the decision of the federal center can only be afforded under certain conditions. For example, regional elites should have at their disposal separate (actually, not on paper) power structures. Local elites should also be consolidated around the head of the region and be more loyal to him than to Moscow.

In the case of Tatarstan, we do not see a complete set of necessary prerequisites for an outright “uprising against the Kremlin.” But the decision to “break Kazan over the knee” could cause a significant surge of ethnic nationalism in the republic and exacerbate conflicts between the regional establishment and elite groups at the federal level.

Tatarstan will not openly resist, but “nonviolent protest” from its population and elites can take various latent forms. We are not talking about protest actions. But rather about the political analogue of the “Italian strike”.

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