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

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

15
DIFFERENTIATION BETWEEN REGIONS IN THE STRUGGLE FOR AUTONOMY

As previously mentioned, on numerous occasions the Russian regions differed from each other in their relations with the center. The scale of these differences, which illustrates the degree of a region's "visibility" (by which we mean the amount of discussion that region received in the media) on the Russian scene, is quite lengthy. This statement is confirmed by our analysis of the visibility of individual Russian regions in the Russian media in 1992-1995, an indicator that indirectly reflects the regions' political activity. Seven hundred and sixty-six articles in thirteen leading Russian newspapers were included in the analysis.1 The results are illustrated in Table 15.1.

To a very great degree, the visibility of the regions is connected with their activism in the regional movement. Indeed, all four of the most visible regions are champions of the struggle for autonomy. All three regions that rank second in degree of visibility are also renowned for their political activities, places such as Kemerovo, Vologda, and Novosibirsk, all known for their confrontations with Moscow on regional rights. Let us now study the factors that determine the intensity of the regions' claims for autonomy.


Population Size and Economic Might

The most powerful variable that determines the political activity of a region is the size of its population and its economic power. The variation in the size of the Russian regions is enormous (see Table 15.2).2 Of the most visible regions in the country (see Table 15.1 for those regions that were discussed in ten or more articles), almost all, with the exception of Vologda, have populations of more than 2 million. In comparison, many of the least visible regions have populations of less than 2 million, and a few have populations of less than 1 million residents. Only

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