By Paul Goble
In the course of his Direct Line television show, Vladimir Putin said he was against moving the capital of the Russian Federation from Moscow but does favor having Russian companies which operate there have their headquarters in Siberian cities and pay taxes there rather than as now in Moscow.
Putin has expressed himself in similar terms since 2014, but not one oil, gas or other major company has been willing to move its headquarters east of the Urals and pay taxes there, something Siberians feel would be boost the revenues and influence of the oblasts, krays and republics there (svpressa.ru/politic/article/302988/).
But analysts say that unless these firms were to move not to a single new center, something such as a new Russian capital might be, neither that region nor Russia would benefit. Instead, Moscow would lose out; and the new capital would have the same implications for the region and Russia as Moscow has had.
Consequently, they insist, for all of Putin’s talk about this possibility, there is little or no chance that it would solve the problems of any but a tiny minority of the citizenry and every chance that it would make conditions for the vast majority perhaps even worse because of the costs of making these shifts.
And because the companies are so resistant to any such change, these experts say, there is no chance that the capital could be moved except under one condition. If a military threat emerged that could threaten Moscow more than it could threaten a city in Siberia, then a change might happen. Otherwise, this idea isn’t going anywhere fast.