From Submission to Rebellion: The Provinces Versus the Center in Russia

By Vladimir Shlapentokh; Roman Levita et al. | Go to book overview

PART THREE
The Center and Regions in Confrontation

In post-Communist Russia, the center and the provinces have been involved in permanent confrontation, the intensity of which has risen and ebbed under the impact of various political, economic, and social factors. Each player has had its own strengths and weaknesses in the struggle for the upper hand in this conflict. On the one hand, the center has its big state machine, even if it is not very effective; it also has control over the national budget, tempered by its inability to satisfy the basic needs of the population. On the other hand, with their high level of autonomy, the provinces can control the election of the president and Parliament and are able to directly influence Moscow policy. However, the relationship between the center and the provinces is far from being uniform, mostly because of the high differentiation among Russian regions in level of economic development.

The major force of regionalization in Russia is the regional elite. It is this elite that shapes the ideology of regionalism and tries to outsmart the central government in the fight for power and money. From time to time, this elite forges various alliances among different regions in order to extract additional concessions from the capital; and it is this elite that benefits most from the privatization of the Russian economy.

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