In the extremely difficult situation in which Russia is today, experts cannot help but wonder who and how will rescue it from the crisis. The fact that the Kremlin actually withdrew from making key decisions to combat the epidemic, shifting them to the shoulders of regional authorities, has allowed many to argue that the country is in the process of establishing a new federalism. True, not everyone agrees with this, analyst Andrei Pertsev, on the contrary, believes that there can be no talk of any federalism, and a unitary autocratic regime has been established in Russia.
But political analyst Abbas Gallyamov has a different opinion. In his blog, he published the text of his speech at the online conference of the Volga expert club, devoted to an attempt to understand what changes in relations between the center and the regions will lead to coronavirus:
“Regional administrations are accustomed to the fact that Moscow always tightly controls the clearing. It fixes everything that happens on the ground, and on each occasion gives its conclusion - a recommendation or order. Such that the region asks about something, and Moscow shrugs its hands and says, they say, decide for yourself - for many years it has been gone. Now this is happening, and on many issues - from the coronavirus itself to the state of the economy.
Now people in the regions, in fact, are accustomed to independence. To the fact that they not only carry out metropolitan teams; that they themselves make decisions that have the most serious consequences. Local federal officials are also accustomed to their independence. Including security officials. They suddenly find out that the governor is not only a person who needs to be monitored and whose surroundings need to be planted, but also a person who needs help and even fulfill his orders somewhere. Because your well-being also depends on his efforts. The Moscow authorities are eliminating themselves, and the regional authorities are here nearby.
This is the same thing that happened in the late 80s.
Of course, the governors themselves will not begin to demand federalization right now. But for starters it’s enough that they themselves will want it. Then in their private conversations this topic will sound more and more often. At some point, complaints about Moscow will generally become the main motive. These sentiments will begin to seep down - into the wider layers of the elites. Will fall lower and lower. And below, the willingness to perceive this ideology already exists. The soil has been dismantled: dissatisfaction with the current situation and envy towards Moscow are growing stronger ...
When you predict political conflicts, you need to understand whether a serious socio-economic foundation has been put under them. That is, it is necessary to look at the situation not only from the point of view of current politics - squabbles between elite groups, etc. One must look to see if there are deeper reasons for the conflict. Of course, not every fundamental contradiction is immediately updated, sometimes it takes decades. Nevertheless, the presence of such a contradiction speaks a lot about the prospects in the area under discussion.
In our case, there is such a contradiction. The conflict between the center and the periphery is generally one of the key conflicts of the modernization era. In Russia, he was never overcome. It is enough to recall that the formation of the current regime was largely determined by the tug of war between the center and the regions. This, so to speak, is his birth trauma. Remember the processes of “stitching Russia”, as Kremlin propagandists called them pathos then? All these endless “bringing regional laws in line with federal”, all this “struggle with regional barons”, etc., etc. For many years, this was one of two or three main subjects of Russian politics.
It all comes back. Of course, not the coronavirus created this situation. He - like any other serious crisis - only acted as a catalyst. Which revealed deep unresolved deep contradictions. In the fight against the excesses of the separatism of the 90s, the Kremlin greatly went too far in the direction of the center. Here it’s enough to recall how just a couple of years ago, the authorities achieved a rejection of the compulsory study of national languages in schools. Unnecessarily then, the center excited the national intelligentsia in the republics. She held a grudge.
Now begins the reverse movement ... "