Staunton, November 7 – Moscow has moved beyond imposing ever more unfunded liabilities on the regions, demanding that they carry out various programs even though it leaves them with ever fewer resources to do so. Now the center is giving the regions advice on what they must do to extract more money from the population — so they can send it to Moscow.
The finance ministry has sent out a letter to ten pilot regions suggesting they tighten control over such things as the registration of migrants and the renting of property even to the point of organizing raids on businesses and apartments so the regions can collect more income (minfin.ru/ru/perfomance/regions/methodology/and newsru.com/russia/02nov2018/minfin.html).
The document is cast in the form of recommendations for the regions to be in a position to boost their own economic development, but given that any additional income the regions would take in would either be viewed as the basis for the imposition of new taxes to be paid to Moscow or a new excuse not to give the regions more aid, it is clearly a two-edged sword.
That is, the regions might in fact derive some benefits by taking in more income from the population, but they would likely lose much of it either by being forced to hand over a large part of their income as now to the central authorities or find that Moscow would use any improvement in the situation of the regions as the basis for cutting back on assistance further.
The After Empire portal makes that point explicit today, saying that the latest finance ministry recommendation is nothing but an update of Dmitry Medvedev’s famous remark, “there is no money, but you hold on.” Now, the regionalist portal says, what Moscow is saying is give us all that you have and take even more from the citizenry (afterempire.info/2018/11/07/control/).
This is a clear indication of just how tight money has become as Russia’s economic crisis continues and how once again the regions are being asked to bear the burden for Moscow’s imperial adventures, adventures that the site suggests are the only justification that the imperial center has for continuing to exist.
But by highlighting that reality, the portal suggests, Moscow with this latest step will further infuriate the already hard-pressed regions and lead more of them to question why they should be paying for Russia’s involvement in far away conflicts when there isn’t enough money for schools, hospitals and roads.
Window on Eurasia — New Series