Synergy as it is: why does the Arkhangelsk region unite with the Nenets districtAnalytics
On May 13, 2020, the heads of the Nenets Autonomous District Yuri Bezudny and the Arkhangelsk Region, Alexander Tsybulsky, signed a memorandum on joint actions to prepare for the initiative to form a new constituent entity of the Russian Federation.
The decision was made in Naryan-Mar following the results of the anti-crisis meeting.
True, so far it is not very clear to many residents of both regions with what purposes this innovation is being introduced. A NI correspondent interviewed political scientists and experts. And here is what they said:
Dmitry Gusev, political scientist:
- The economy of the Nenets district rests on oil production. Now, when world prices and demand for hydrocarbons have fallen sharply, this will negatively affect the standard of living of the population. Diversification of the economy is needed. Such an opportunity can be given by unification with the Arkhangelsk region. In addition, the task is to expand the Northern Sea Route, the construction of a seaport in Indigo, in the Nenets Okrug, which will become the end point of the strategic railway of the White Sea - Komi - Ural, which will allow transporting wood from Arkhangelsk and Vologda and sending it for export by sea. The implementation of such large-scale projects is impossible without the participation of the federal center. Of course, this requires the creation of a new large region. Now they are collecting the maximum number of proposals, and in the near future the results of these working groups will be presented.
Grigory Kazankov, political scientist, associate professor of Moscow State University named after M.V. Lomonosov:
- It will be right to call this not a unification, but the creation of a large, serious northern region. The larger the region and the more diversified the economy in it, the more attractive it becomes and will immediately gain a competitive advantage over other regions. In a period when things are not good with the economy, competition for resources is increasing. In this case, it turns out that the economy in the Nenets okrug is powerful, but it is 100 percent oriented towards oil and gas production. Right now, so much is being extracted that the wells can remain in working condition. All oil storage facilities in the country are full. In the best of times, the NAO budget was 24 billion rubles, when oil was worth $ 70 per barrel. Now it costs $ 25. And the cost of production in the Nenets Okrug is from 19 to 28 dollars. And How? To ensure the lives of people, in the NAO it is necessary to spend a lot of money for each person. Only milk subsidy of 70 rubles per liter. It's hard to live there. And almost all oil and gas products are produced by shift workers. The inhabitants of NAO are officials, pensioners and reindeer herders. They do not produce any surplus value. In the Arkhangelsk region, everything is focused on forestry and timber processing, and a very strong dependence on the world market is obtained. These are the risks. If there is a single region, the risks will decrease and money will come with greater joy.
Now the state is seriously investing in the development of the Arctic territories. Here, too, a large region will have advantages. He will be able to claim a key role, because individually this will not work. The Nenets Autonomous Okrug is too small, and the Arkhangelsk region can conditionally be considered the Arctic region, because it is all south of the Arctic Circle. From the point of view of development, the Arkhangelsk region faces the White Sea. The White Sea is shallow and freezing, therefore the port of Arkhangelsk has lost its significance as a base for the development of the Arctic. Murmansk is a non-freezing port. On the other hand, in the NAO - the sea is not freezing. It is no coincidence that a decision has now been made to expand the waters of the Northern Sea Route at the expense of the Barents, White and Pechersky Seas at the expense of the coast of the Arkhangelsk Region and the Nenets Okrug. These are clear advantages. Two regions will be able to complement each other.
Natalia Zubarevich, Doctor of Geographical Sciences, Professor:
- This is done so that 24.5 billion rubles of revenues of the Nenets okrug merged into 108 billion rubles of revenues of the Arkhangelsk region. The population of the Arkhangelsk region is 1 million people, and the population of the Nenets okrug is 45 thousand people. For the population of 45 thousand - 24.5 billion, and for a million - 108 billion. Is it clear? The revenues of the Nenets okrug are generated from oil production under a production sharing agreement, the absence of a cash withdrawal called the “mineral extraction tax”. Under a production sharing agreement, the manufacturer is paid royalties to the county budget and plus income tax. True, it will now fall due to falling oil prices. These are special regimes that allow two constituent entities of Russia - Sakhalin and the Nenets okrug - to generate large revenues at high oil prices. Now prices have fallen, incomes will also fall, but this is disproportionate to security. In the Nenets okrug it is 20 or 40 percent (I don’t remember now) higher than the national average, and in the Arkhangelsk region it is the lowest in the North-West, about 70% of the national average. It is a matter of money and nothing else.
- And from the point of view of controllability?
- There will be fewer managers. Yes, 3,000 officials per 45 thousand inhabitants are too many.
Ilya Grashchenkov, head of the Center for Regional Policy Development:
- The unification of the Arkhangelsk region and the NAO is quite logical. First, de jure this is one region (according to the Charter of the Arkhangelsk region, the NAO is part of it, being both a subject of the Russian Federation and an integral part of the region). So this is just some kind of exception to the rule (according to the 1993 Constitution, by the way), despite the fact that NAO is the most sparsely populated entity, and there is a lot of money in it (GRP NAO - more than 300 billion, for 44 thousand, and Arkhangelsk - 550 billion to 1.2 million). It is worth recalling that until 1937 there was generally a single Northern region, which was divided into Arkhangelsk (with the Nenets Autonomous Okrug) and Vologda.
Shies so thoroughly undermined the rating of power in the Arkhangelsk region that it would be very difficult to elect the necessary governor in the EDG. The merger is a chance to promise growth due to the redistribution of gas revenues of the Nenets Autonomous District, due to the development of NSR projects, due to the abandonment of Moscow landfills, etc.
What are the advantages? The unification process has been going on for a long time. You can recall the Perm Territory, Kamchatka Territory, Trans-Baikal Territory. Everywhere there is one prerequisite - more successful regions are combined with more depressed ones. Arkhangelsk region, in this case, is just one of them. Yes, there are various long-term projects, but they are timed, and money is needed now. There is just the Nenets Autonomous Okrug right next to it: there is a small population, but large revenues from the sale of gas and other natural resources. Apparently, now these finances will be partially redistributed to the Arkhangelsk region. This will allow local authorities to significantly improve their positions at the expense of oil and gas money. This will also reduce the cost of maintaining the state apparatus. Well, under one management it will be easier to develop joint regional projects. NAO is one of the smallest entities: 44 thousand people. Over 1.1 million people live in the Arkhangelsk region. Moreover, their GDP indicator is approximately the same.
Dmitry Oreshkin, independent political scientist:
- The advantages from this association will be received by the young heads of the regions. They want to demonstrate their effectiveness, loyalty to the values of the vertical and the fact that they control the situation. It is beneficial for both of them, because they know that Putin likes to unite. Since Putin is a verticalist, and the vertical does not imply the development of territory, but command of territories, and commanding too many subordinates without a hierarchy of subordination is difficult or impossible. Therefore, Putin from the very beginning, when he came to power, wanted to combine 89 then-federated subjects into 9 federal districts. This is military logic.
There is such a thing - the optimal hierarchy of management. One boss, a military officer, cannot have more than 9 - 10 subordinates, direct, with whom he interacts. And not just the military. The prime minister cannot have 50 ministers. He should have deputy prime ministers, each of whom oversees his own direction. The prime minister works directly with the vice, and only in extreme cases can he go down to the ministry. The president should work with 89 governors. In military terminology, this is the same as that of the commander in chief of 89 armies. It is much more convenient to organize these armies in the fronts, in each front there are 7-8 armies, and the commanders of the fronts up to 10. This was approximately done.
Federal districts, in each of which about 7 - 10 regions. But that did not work. These federal districts are the fifth wheel of the cart, because the territory requires a slightly different approach. The army is not a structure that improves people's lives, takes care of them. This is a structure that mobilizes, directs and forces people to do the work that the commander in chief needs. This is called command. And to develop, build, improve the environment is another matter. World experience shows that as the territory develops, the control loops approach and crush towards it. If you take Germany, there are very high powers in the federal lands.
The NAO with the capital Naryan-Mar has very few resistance resources. There are only 45 thousand people. More than half live in Naryan-Mar. Ethnic problems do not work - two-thirds of the population are Russians. Nenets are less than 20 percent and they live mainly in nature - they fish, graze deer. Their political weight is very small. In modern life, cities determine the leading role. And in the cities, of course, there are Komi, and Nenets, and Russians, and Ukrainians. But ethnic Nenets are mostly scattered throughout this vast territory and there are less than 10 thousand of them.
And again, this can be justified in terms of what the military calls geopolitics or geostrategy. Since they need to command this territory, they think of these territories as a field of strategic opposition. They need to put a base here, there is a base, build a port. It is more convenient for them to command a large territory. As during the war, Papanin was appointed head of the Northern Sea Route in the summer of 41 years with absolute powers. And who was asking there? Komi, not Komi ... He needs to build a railway - he builds where he needs, without asking any expertise, because he has one task - to ensure the defense of the North from landing penetrations. The tasks are simple, mobilization. Our time is becoming more and more military, the North is becoming more and more strategic. Shoigu is there all the time, Putin is there all the time. I think that the main unarticulated reason for unification - the North is transferred to martial law. It seems so.