By Paul Goble
Ever more analysts and commentators in Moscow have been criticizing the Russian government’s plan to divide the country into 15 economic macro-regions as nothing more than a reprise of Nikita Khrushchev’s failed effort to do something similar 60 years ago (stoletie.ru/vzglyad/ne_nastupit_by_na_sovetskije_grabli_892.htm).
That opposition has been noted, but a potentially more powerful negative vote on the new plan by the economic development ministry is being cast in the regions, and especially in the Urals Federal District. There, the presidential plenipotentiary reports, “all the regions” within his district oppose it (kommersant.ru/doc/3733372).
Such opposition may not be sufficient to kill central efforts at putting this plan into place, of course; but it almost certainly means that if Moscow does go ahead, the regions are ready, willing and in many respects able to kill it from below after the ministry and the government declare victory.
Kommersant journalists have been able to confirm the negative attitudes of at least some regions, including that of officials in Perm Kray. And they quote Ivan Devchenko, a KPRF deputy in the Tyumen Oblast Duma as saying that the whole idea of macro-regions is “a profanation” that will “bring us nothing good.”
Meanwhile, Moscow political analyst Konstantin Kalachev tells the paper that “the very idea of macro-regions looks to be far from fully developed and offers only the imitation of activity.” Worse, it represents “a revival of Soviet practices” with their over-bureaucratization and hyper-centralization. Both will kill any chances for real economic growth.