year has passed since Vladimir Putin introduced a new administrative system to
the country, dividing it into seven districts and submitting the subjects of the
federation to them. Specialists
perceived the establishment of these districts, which were immediately nicknamed
«general-gubernias», as an administrative reform with far-reaching
consequences. Some results
can be brought up after a year's lapse. Here
is the opinion of Robert Ortang, the leading researcher and analyst of Russia in
the New-York Institute "East-West".
"It seems to me that if
we had asked Putin himself what the major achievements related to this reform
are he would answer that by instituting seven general-governess he has suspended
the collapse of the country. However,
I don't think that this is a serious achievement because even in the worse times
of Yeltsin's period a collapse did not threaten Russia.
Stating differently, Putin stopped a collapse that was not there.
I think that the real aim of innovation was to reduce the power of
governors and decrease the scope of criminality and corruption in the regions.
I think that Putin did not achieve his goal.
He achieved some insignificant success in establishing control over
militia. He replaced several heads
of police in the regions and took them out of subordination to governors.
He replaced on the posts
several leaders of the prosecutor's office and also took them out of control by
governors. He managed to improve
regional legislation to some extent. However,
at minimum two generals, Cherkesov and Poltavchenko recently claimed that the
level of criminality in the districts is growing while the level of corruption
among regional officials is also rising. So,
Putin has nothing to boast about. I
don't think that his goal was to create a lawful state in Russia.
This is especially obvious due to the fact that he opposes the
introduction of independent court.
He clearly does not strive to
create a system by which everyone is equal in the face of law and is obliged to
submit to the established rules. He
stands for the system of favoritism, when there are people who are more equal
than others. But there is a group
whose power he really seeks to restrict---governors.
Putin wants that the power, which slipped off the hands of Kremlin in the
90s and passed on to governors, return to Kremlin.
But I suppose that institution of seven general-governesses does not
yield anything. It gave rise to more problems than solved them.
Although many governors are corrupted and constantly abuse power, simple
return of power to the federal government does not solve anything.
Under Yeltsin governors appeared very mighty, now they are less powerful.
Besides that he kicked governors out of Moscow and reorganized the
Federation Council. Thus he
deprived them of part of their power. But on the other hand, by losing power on the federal level,
governors become even more unrestricted tyrants in their regions.
More interesting is what is
happening to state monopolies and what is happening to oligarchs.
Reformation of Gazprom or electricity supply will have a much greater
impact on the regions than what Kirienko, for instance, is doing in Privolzhski
District. Oligarchs pushed aside
from the power in Moscow seek to reinforce their positions on the spot as, for
example, Lukoil is doing in Volgograd, Republic of Komi and partially in Perm.