Centrifugal Tendencies in the Development of Russian Regions: Implications for Ukraine and the West (Centre for Russian Studies, Conference “Russian statehood, stable instability”, Kyiv, 18 November 2016)
1. The empirical and methodological bases of research of centrifugal processes in modern Russia.
2. Manifestations of centrifugal tendencies in social and political practice of modern Russia.
3. Prerequisites for centrifugal processes.
4. Factors constraining centrifugal processes.
5. The level of perception of separatism by the population of the Russian Federation.
6. Types of separatism in modern Russia and classification of the Russian Federation subjects in terms of the perception of separatism.
7. Opposing centrifugal process by the authorities.
8. Catalysts of centrifugal processes.
9. Forecast for the development of centrifugal processes in the Russian Federation.
10. Conclusions and recommendations.
Empirical and methodological bases of research of centrifugal processes in modern Russia
The author used a system of methods to study modern centrifugal processes in Russia:
1. Qualitative analysis of the existing legislation of the Russian Federation, including its altering.
2. Qualitative content analysis of electronic resources of Runet (Russian segment of Internet), including sites of separatists.
3. Qualitative analysis of historical sources describing the centrifugal tendencies and separatism in the Russian Empire.
4. Unconnected observation of centrifugal tendencies and separatism. The author observed diverse manifestations of separatism in various regions of Russia due to his duties in 1991-2000 when employed at the governmental and municipal services. The author also observed manifestations of centrifugal processes and separatism in the North Caucasus, while working in a nonprofit organization during 2001-2014.
5. The secondary analysis of materials of prior sociological studies of various aspects of centrifugal processes in Russia.
6. Individual expert interviews with public opinion leaders of the republics of the North Caucasus during 2001-2014 and analysis of the content of the interviews.
7. Focus groups held in 2011 by the author and his colleagues from the Krasnodar Regional Public Organization “Southern Regional Resource Centre” in republics and regions of the North Caucasus as part of the social programme Promotion and Protection of Interests of Non-profit Organizations in the North Caucasus.
The methodological basis of the conclusions and recommendations presented in the text is the theory of relative deprivation.
Manifestations of centrifugal tendencies in social and political practice of modern Russia.
Analysis of centrifugal tendencies is impossible without demonstrating specific cases of their manifestation. As it will be shown belowsuch facts, as a rule, are considered as crimes by Russian legislation and are severely prosecuted. However, there have been various manifestations of centrifugal tendencies even in these conditions during the incumbent presidency of Vladimir Putin (since 2012).
Contradictions and conflicts that do not directly affect the centrifugal processes are not considered within this report.
Actions creating conditions for disintegration or directly aimed at disintegration, were carried out by representatives of the elite groups of the Russian Federation subjects, and representatives of mass social groups.
Representatives of elite groups use currently the following methods that objectively enhance prerequisites of disintegration:
1. Regulatory consolidation/confirmation of special rights/preferences for titular ethnic groups of the Russian Federation subjects.
2. Promotion of representatives of the titular ethnos to administrative posts in the Russian Federation subjects.
3. Establishment of the units entirely or mainly made up of representatives of the titular ethnos in the Armed Forces and Ministry of Interior (practice of territorial formation of armed forces is extremely dangerous for the unity of the country, confirmed by the experience of Ukraine in the Crimea). This method is characteristic for the Chechen Republic.
4. Public manifestations of disagreement with actions of representatives of federal authorities, especially law-enforcing services at the territory of the Russian Federation subject.
The above-mentioned methods can in no way relate to disintegration from the viewpoint of their performers, however the matter is in their objective impact on the socio-political situation.
To illustrate the above: Chairman of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) Alexander Kim-Kimen announced Resolution of the Constitutional Court concerning the case of interpreting Article 42 of the Constitution (Fundamental Law) of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) on 21/10/2016. The document from now on has secured “the recognition of the territory of Yakutia as native land and the historic homeland of the Yakut people, the source of their economic prosperity, the unique cultural and linguistic identity, while the constitutional and legal status of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) – as a form of its socio-political and state legal organization as a specific historic national community within the Russian state”. The resolution also refers to “a complex of natural collective rights of the indigenous people of Yakutia, after whom the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) is named”, i.e. the indigenous people have been recognized as the title ethnos of the republic. This “complex of natural collective rights” guarantees the Yakut people being “a kind of socio-historical community formed in a consolidated way on the integrative basis of its territorial integrity, their socio-economic, state, legal, national, cultural and linguistic identity, self-sufficiency and development in the framework of the Russian Federation.” The decision of the Constitutional Court of Yakutia is a radical challenge to the federal authorities in the present situation. A broad campaign of bringing constitutions (statutes) of the Russian Federation subjects in conformity with the federal law was carried out during the first period of presidency of Putin. The norms giving preferences along ethnic сriteria were deleted from the fundamental laws of the Russian Federation subjects during the campaign. The said resolution of the Constitutional Court of Yakutia justifies a special status of Yakuts thus clearly contravening the policy of the federal authorities. It should be stressed that the Constitutional Court of Yakutia considered the issue at the request of Michael Habyshev, from the Yakut Parliament Il Tumen, who demanded to explain the concept of “indigenous people” fixed in the Constitution of the Republic. This proves the presence of people who try to defend the idea of ethnically oriented public policy of Yakutia in such an elite group as MPs of the republic.
Regional (RF subjects) ethnic elites are primarily interested in securing dominance in the administrative area, i.e., priority access to the civil and municipal service positions, as well as in law enforcement. The level of “administrative rent” (all types of income from administrative activities, including illegal) in modern Russia is extremely high, making administrative posts extremely attractive.
Representatives of mass social groups have absolutely different motivation to participate in centrifugal processes than representatives of elite groups. Civic activists respond in such a way to the actions of federal and regional authorities. The strategy of ignoring the interests of people by the power creates the protest civic culture, state simulation strategy – legal resistance culture, and the one focused on significant result for people – a culture of civic cooperation. The culture of civil society of federal subjects and even larger regions (e.g., North Caucasus) can be attributed to one of these basic types. Imitation model is essential for most of the federal subjects. Requirements for administrative reforms to improve the efficiency of cooperation between authorities and civil society in this model were fulfilled formally, in other words, they were not result oriented. But still they were fulfilled. This identifies the main response strategy of civil society, implemented within the culture of legal resistance. In other words, the civil society structures are oriented to fill with content “empty forms” generated by authorities: public councils under the authorities, public supervisory commissions for monitoring places of confinement, other negotiating areas. Besides, citizens themselves initiate and create new mechanisms of interaction with the authorities at such territories. Whereas a lot of citizens keep aiming at interacting with this power, specific officials and MPs. Representatives of this civic culture perceive power to a larger extent as a function. It means that hope remains for the people in this system to make the power act according to the rules.
Joint actions of federal and regional authorities to form loyal public supervisory commissions (PSC) for the control over places of confinement led to a sharp decline of aiming active citizens at interacting with power in 2016. PSC were an ample example of efficient public control carried out under a special federal law in 2008-2016. The efficiency of the independent control over observation of rights of persons under investigation and convicted forced the authorities to conduct a coordinated campaign when selecting new RSC in subjects of the Russian Federation in 2016 and cross out from the lists of candidates almost all independent observers. As a result, Russian society has strengthened his political polarization: many civic activists focused on liberal values lost hope for the possibility of interaction with the authorities.
The most striking example of the model of ignoring and, accordingly, the civil protest culture are some of the republics of the North Caucasus. The protest civic culture is characterized by willingness of many people to use violence against the authorities and their representatives. This is the civic culture of armed resistance, i.e. it recognizes the possibility of radical and illegal methods of interaction with authorities. This culture is manifested, e.g., by terrorist attacks.
The rising popularity of Salafiyah (fundamentalist Islam, which advocates for religious polity and legislation) can also be considered as a reaction of a certain part of the society to the activities of authorities. This growth continues as it has an objective basis – a high level of relative deprivation. “The Yeast”, on which Salafiyah grows, is a mass sense of injustice. A typical and main characteristic of Salafits from their supporters – “they are equitable”. There are Jamaats (organizations) of Salafits at North Caucasus, in Tatarstan, Bashkortostan and some Russian cities. Some Russians converted to Islam, and representatives of other non-Islamic ethnic groups join Salafits. This clearly shows deficit of justice in Russia, which provokes some people to seek justice in other religions. Of course, not all carriers of protest civic culture are ready to resort to radical methods in their dialogue with the authorities. Although provided the legal ways are chosen, the citizens assume that the power should be changed. People believe that the power should be replaced first, and then a constructive relationship with another power should be built.
Armed violence in the confrontation with the authorities is resorted to only in the North Caucasus. Armed opposition to power is exercised mostly by representatives of the two categories of local residents in this region (mainly in the central and eastern part of the North Caucasus):
1. Militants of the Caucasus Emirate (the way they name themselves – Imarat Kavkaz), Islamist formation, which aims at establishing an Islamic state in the region (Salafits). The Emirate was proclaimed by Doku Umarov in 2007 with the transformation of the self-proclaimed Chechen Republic of Ichkeria to Villayat Nohchiycho, as a part of the emirate. At the time, resources of Chechen ethnic separatism were actually exhausted, and many of its supporters (apart from not numerous followers of Ahmed Zakayev) joined the militarized Islamic movement, which has an international resource base. Since 2012 the military activity of the emirate at the North Caucasus has decreased significantly due to the departure of many militants to the territory of the Islamic State (formerly – The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). The government of the Russian Federation is active in preventing the return of IS militants (natives of the North Caucasus) into the region.
On 28.07.2011 The Committee of the UN Security Council 1267/1989 on sanctions against “Al Qaeda” and associated physical persons and entities decided to include terrorist organization “Caucasian emirate” (“Imarat Kavkaz”) guided by Doku Umarov (in sanctions list of the Committee of the UN Security Council 1267/1989 since March 2011) into the consolidated list of the Committee. Caucasian Emirate is also banned in a number of countries: USA, Canada, UK and others. Some representatives of the emirate have been taking part in hostilities in eastern Ukraine on the side of Ukraine since the spring of 2014 (e.g., Amir of Daghestan Jamaat). However, such actions are not typical for ideological Salafits – adherents of the emirate, as they consider the whole non-Muslim world their collective enemy (dar al-Harb – “Territory of War”), and should not provide assistance to secular regimes.
2. “Blood avengers” – those avenging the death of relatives. Special operations of official law-enforcing agencies, actions of informal pro-government “death squads”, excessive use of violence result in killing people whose relatives, according to adats (norms of ethnic traditional law) declare vendetta to representatives of the authorities in general.
Supporters of the Chechen national independence, who are not Salafits and ideologically oriented at Akhmed Zakayev, who lives in London, are not waging armed war in Russia. Many of Chechen militants from the first and the second wars – adherents of Sufi Islam (tarikatists) – currently serve in the armed units of the Russian Federation in Chechnya (Ministry of Interior, armed forces, etc.) or in paramilitary units of Ramzan Kadyrov, acting as “death squads.” Zakayev himself, judging from his public interviews, hopes for gaining Czech independence with support of armed Chechens, who now serve Russia or in person to R. Kadyrov.
Organized separatist structures exist in some regions and cities of Russia. Jamaats (organization) of salafit organization “Caucasian Emirate” banned in several countries are available in some republics of the North Caucasus (Chechnya, Daghestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia), in the eastern regions of Stavropol Territory, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, in some major cities all over the territory of Russia. Members of the organization are not involved in military actions outside the North Caucasus, but they stand for the establishment of a sovereign Islamic state at a part of Russia, using terrorist methods of opposing the authorities.
The following could be sorted out from unarmed methods used by representatives of mass social groups and creating objective conditions for disintegration:
1. Holding / attempts to hold public events that demonstrate dissatisfaction with the actions of the federal centre to regions. Examples: summer 2014 attempts to hold marches for the federalization of Siberia (Novosibirsk), Kuban (Krasnodar), Kaliningrad Province. The purpose of these events was to demonstrate brute irrationality of the policy of the regime of Vladimir Putin, who created separatist movements in eastern Ukraine.
2. Criticism of the actions of the federal government towards Russian civil society activists and other public opinion leaders. Such criticism strengthens relative deprivation and creates preconditions for a fast and sudden protest mobilization.
This report does not consider numerous forms of public protest actions that are not directly related to centrifugal processes, but describing people’s discontent with activities of power.
Prerequisites for centrifugal processes.
Seeking of Russian territories for separation is defined by some sustainable prerequisites. These prerequisites, in contrast to rapidly changing factors, exist for a long time and could be adjusted only over long historical periods. The importance of each of the following prerequisites significantly differ from region to region. However, centrifugal and centripetal processes going on in Russia cannot be understood without characterizing the entire system of the prerequisites.
The basic premise of centrifugal processes – regional heterogeneity (diversity) of Russia.
Russia is a country with very profound differences between regions. These differences are not concentrated in a definite sphere of life, they are common to all important areas: economics, demography, cultures (including social relationships), quality of state and municipal management, models of interaction between civil society and power, historical memory, and relative deprivation grounds.
Heterogeneity of the Russian territories is a prerequisite for the disintegration due to the following reasons. Namely:
1. It complicates management system. You cannot apply the same management model for the modern metropolis of Moscow and the Chechen Republic, living in a system of kin relations. Real federation could solve the problem of management efficiency by transferring to the level of the Federation of powers which require taking into account regional specifics. But now Russia is not a full-fledged federation, the country is characterized by a highly centralized model of “manual” control.
2. It generates discontent of the people from some macro-regions with actions of people from other ones: mutual hostility in relations between Russians living in the regions with traditionally Russian ethnic composition and migrants from the North Caucasus.
3. It forms discontent of the residents from federal budget donor regions with the policy of the federal centre in redistributing incomes in favour of other regions. A clear manifestation of this is the slogan popular not only among Russian nationalists: “Stop feeding the Caucasus!” At the same time, subsidized areas in this situation blame the federal government policy in the subsidized character of the economy of their federal subject. Disintegration potential of these ideas is very high. It was evident from the last years of the Soviet Union, when the inhabitants of each republic in the USSR suspected that their resources were withdrawn in favour of other republics.
4. It determines variety of forms of protest of the population of different regions. As a result, the extreme forms of protest with violence, which are widely used, for instance at the North Caucasus, are perceived by the population of Russian regions as aggression not only against the authorities, but also against the society as a whole. Such notions reinforce social and psychological distance between residents of different macro-regions of Russia.
The economic heterogeneity
Heterogeneity of Russian territories in the economic sector is easier to demonstrate, because economic indicators are quantified. Differences between Russian regions with regard to economic indicators are very high. The author calculated maximum differences in gross regional product per capita between the subjects of the Russian Federation in 2014 (data for 2015 on the RF subjects are not available in the public domain). The economic heterogeneity of the territories of Russia is better characterized by this statistical material open for public. Index of the leader (Sakhalin Province) exceeds the outsider (Chechen Republic) in 15.6 times (without the Crimea and Sevastopol). Taking into account the Crimea and Sevastopol, the gap between indeces is even greater due to a very low values of GRP at annexed territories. For comparison, the figure of the leader in Ukraine (Kyiv) in 2014 exceeded the index of the outsider (Transcarpathian Province), only in 6.5 times (without the Donetsk and Lugansk Provinces, the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea and Sevastopol). This gap (15.6 times and 6.5 times) gives an overview of the differences of economic levels of heterogeneity of Russia and Ukraine.
One of the most representative figures of regional heterogeneity in the economy is the level of corruption. Thus, as a result of research by the Southern Regional Resource Centre of corruption at the Krasnodar Territory in 2007 the index of 40% corruption burden on newly built housing was obtained. However, this figure in the Sakhalin Province, according to local experts, was 6%. Such a difference is explained by the level of demand, i.e. economic reasons. One of Sakhalin experts commented: “If people go en masse from Kuban to Sakhalin, the figures would be opposite: the corruption burden on housing at the primary market in Krasnodar will not exceed 6%, and we shall have 40%.”
V.A. Ilyin and T.V. Uskova highlighted the most important disparities between the territories of Russia. They believe the most important, among others, to be: differentiation of regions in terms of economic development; differentiation by income of the population; population size (Russians move to the Central and Southern Federal Districts and leave northern and eastern areas).
The critical factor of the heterogeneity is the regional socio-cultural differences. These include, for instance, differences in levels of stages of social development. They are also sometimes referred to as “traditionalism – modernism” differences. One of the poles of the scale (traditionalism) is concentrated in Russia within the North Caucasus Federal District, although it is not limited just to North Caucasus. A significant retreat should be made here dedicated to the North Caucasus. Two recent wars in the North Caucasus (1990s and the first decade of this century) played the role of catalyst for social modernization. The gender position of young men with regard to older age groups and gender position of women with regard to men significantly changed within a very short historical period. “Social lifts” based on personal qualities, not on group membership, have become active as a result of the war in the region: people became leaders of armed groups not because of age but because of personal qualities. Women, who had to be responsible for the economic well-being of families during a long war period, significantly increased their informal social status (particularly in non-public family relationships). However, the North Caucasus and to a lesser extent Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Kalmykia, Yakutia, Tyva and several other areas remain zone of active functioning (in the North Caucasus – domination) of the traditional society. Social relations are characterized here by dominance of the role of family group, rather than individual; the low status of women; high importance of traditional values in the social consciousness, such as strength and aggression, weighty significance of religion, etc. The population of other more modernized regions of Russia is not ready to consider these rules in interpersonal and group interaction. An illustration of such unreadiness is an extremely negative attitude to the so-called “Caucasus Wedding” in Russian cities, especially to shooting firearms at the wedding processions. Huge social and cultural differences of the inhabitants of different regions of Russia provide grounds for conflicts and alienation. Important aspects of socio-cultural heterogeneity that deserve separate consideration is demographic and confessional (religious) heterogeneity.
The demographic heterogeneity
The following indicators illustrate demographic heterogeneity: the number of dependent age young people reaches 25% of the total population in the North Caucasus republics such as Daghestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, while in the central regions of Russia with predominantly Russian population – less than 12%. This imbalance is a result of a high birth rate at the North Caucasus. Indigenous ethnic groups of the North Caucasus (excluding Adyghe) have not yet transferred to the European type of reproduction.
Analysis of demographic heterogeneity is highly relevant for the forecast of socio-political situation, as young people make up part of the protest movement, mostly inclined to violence. This is confirmed by the results of “Kryshtanovskaya Lab” research in December 2012 – February 2013: 40% of respondents rated opposition as too weak, because it is not ready “to raise the bids” and go to the armed conflict with the authorities. “The respondents have a clear conviction that if there were fewer intellectuals among protesters, and more fearless” bombers”, the protest would have more success”. It is obvious that a higher percentage of young people in general in the population of the region creates a greater probability of armed confrontation between civil society activists and power representatives in the region.
According to the mass survey conducted in 2012 about 41% of Russians are Orthodox Christians; 6.5% – Muslims (both Sunni and Shiah, here are also Muslims who consider themselves neither Sunni nor Shia); 1.2% – the traditional religions of their ancestors; 0.2% – Protestants. Islam in Russia has quite clear area of distribution. These are North Caucasus republics (along with North Ossetia-Alania, where 3% declared themselves as Muslims and 29% said that they practice traditional religion of their ancestors), eastern parts of Stavropol Territory, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan.
Of great importance among Muslims is the division into Sunnis (the majority of Muslims of Russia) and Shia (Muslims of neighboring to Azerbaijan regions of Daghestan). We must take into account the specific features of perception of the world by convinced Muslims to understand the importance of this distinction: all significant events are evaluated in terms of compliance with Islam and intra-confessional contradictions. Therefore, even events far abroad influence how Muslims perceive power in general and individual politicians in particular.
The division into Sunnis and Shiites has been actualized after the start of hostilities of Russia in Syria, where the regime of Vladimir Putin supports alawite (close to Shi’ism) regime of Bashar al-Assad, together with Shiite Iran. Sunnis make up the majority of Russian Muslims, and actions of Putin regime led to the formation of the Russian Sunni opinion of hostility of the Russian policy in Syria to Sunnism.
The division of Sunnism into the followers of Sufi Islam (called tarikatists, i.e. members of tarikats – Sufi brotherhoods, they constitute the majority of the population of the North Caucasus) and the Salafists (on the everyday level they are called “Wahhabis”) – Islamic fundamentalists, plays an important role for Sunni community.
Heterogeneity of state and municipal governing
The quality of state and municipal government regions of Russia also differs significantly. The author is using a simple scale of differences of activities of the authorities according to the objectives: the activities of authorities to achieve real results in the interests of citizens; imitation of efficiency and ignoring the interests of citizens. Activities to achieve real results for the citizens are not typical for the federal authorities in Russia today. The Federal Centre uses the strategy of simulations. Authorities in the majority of the Russian Federation subjects behave themselves in the similar way. But a number of areas, including the North Caucasus republics, are characterized by the outright ignoring of the interests of the population by relevant authorities of federal subjects.
Heterogeneity of state governing in Russia has another, albeit rather weak expression. Heads of the Russian Federation subjects do not allow themselves to demand anything, even not in public, from the federal authorities. Such demands, in the form of illegal action as well, only the head of Chechnya R. Kadyrov allows himself. Such a behavior of his is extremely important, because it shows in practice that the alternative to the silence of regional heads exists even with the current tough vertical of power.
Heterogeneity of civil society
Civil society types and its behavior in Russia are also extremely heterogeneous. Recent types for modern Russian civic culture can be distinguished by the method of reconstruction of political management strategies used by the government: ignoring the interests of the public; simulation of results; activities aimed at achieving socially significant results. Ignoring implies that the authorities are doing nothing even in the sphere of their direct responsibility. Imitation means formal execution, when the problem is not solved, but the visibility of activeness for its resolution is created. Productive activities are not characteristic for the authorities of the Russian Federation subjects, this model of behavior of the authorities can be found in modern Russia only at the municipal level.
The state of civil society, including the type of civic culture is an important factor of centrifugal processes. Civil society is obviously weak in the present Russia. This causes additional opportunities for the spread of separatist sentiments since the structure of the civil society is an efficient mechanism of risk assessment and countering these risks. In terms of a strong civil society approval of secessionist sentiments of individuals or organizations by all civil society is unlikely, as risks to society are extremely high in the case of active struggle for separation. The authorities actively weaken civil society in present Russia as a threat to its stability and its very existence. Indeed, only a strong civil society can provide rapid and active mobilization of public protest – centres of gravity and coordination, such as non-profit organization are necessary for protest mobilization. But actions of federal authorities for weakening civil society strengthen prerequisites for expanding social basis of separatism.
The dynamics of regional heterogeneity
The level of spatial (regional) heterogeneity of Russia, is not only high, but will continue to grow in the coming years. Expert opinion about the prospects of reducing heterogeneity is consolidated, “Talking about convergence of regions in terms of socio-economic development is at least premature,” – says T.V. Uskova, Doctor of Economics, from the Institute of Socio-Economic Development of Territories of Russian Academy of Sciences. The increase of heterogeneity has objective demographic and economic preconditions. Thus, Russia is the only country of the former Soviet Union, which during its modern history has increased its ethnic heterogeneity. Title ethnic groups increased their share of the total population in all former Soviet republics, while it is vice versa in Russia. N.V. Zubarevych states in a recent study of spatial disparities in Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine: “The laws of spatial development are stronger than political regimes. Spatial development is inertial, its factors and barriers are enduring. One can hardly expect significant changes in the major countries of the CIS in the next 10-15 years… The impact of the existing barriers and factors will carry on reproducing trends of regional disparities”. Thus, system heterogeneity as a factor of centrifugal tendencies in Russia will be preserved for a long time.
It is necessary to outline several important assumptions more, besides such basic premise of centrifugal processes such as heterogeneity:
Relative deprivation as a precondition for centrifugal processes.
Prerequisite of centrifugal processes and even the disintegration of modern Russia, besides its profound heterogeneity, is relative deprivation: a profound sense of injustice, deceived expectations make a person look for the cause. One of the possible reasons is defined like this: “We have to live in Russia, which is not able to guarantee us security / high life standards / maintain ethnic or religious identity”. We can point out many reasons for such deprivation:
1. The current level of income compared with the desired or previously achieved.
2. Ethnic identity.
3. Religious identity.
4. Regional identity (important for Russians living at the territories of the Russian Federation, remote from the European centre).
5. Actions of the authorities in general / specific official.
6. Deceived expectations.
7. The feeling of inaccessibility of ambitions.
These reasons, as it will be shown below, in various combinations determine ideas of separatist movements.
Two aspects must be distinguished in historical memory as a premise of disintegration: the historical memory of the independence of certain regions and historical memory of conflicts, wars and other events that lead to separation.
Separatism has long been known in Russia, due to the nature of the formation of the country by joining new territories as a result of war. The relevance of separatism in Russia is determined, among other things, by the fact that it is based on a long historical tradition. Statehood or quasi-statehood before joining the Russian state had Volga Turks (Tatars, Bashkirs, etc.), Adygeis, Ossetians, Vaynakhs and Turks of North Caucasus, some Daghestan ethno-territorial groups, Turks of Western Siberia. Most of these structures were not full-fledged nations, but that does not matter for mythological historical memory.
In addition, separatism is not focused only at the “national outskirts,” it appears also in regions inhabited by Russians. Thus, separatism, in the form of independent and quasi-independent states during the Civil War of 1918-1920, was typical for the areas predominantly populated by Russians: Siberia, the Far East, Kuban and others. Independent states existed during the Civil War from several months (the Siberian Republic) to two years (Kuban People’s Republic / Kuban Territory). Besides, current population of previous puppet states (dependent from the RSFSR) – the Far Eastern Republic (1920-1922) and Tuvan People’s Republic (1921-1944) – have the historical memory of independence in varying degrees.
In 1990s Tatarstan was sovereign state de jure, though in fact it was a member of the Russian Federation, and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria was a sovereign state de facto. The level of autonomy of the Sverdlovsk province increased (the Urals Republic was proclaimed) in the Russian Federation. These centrifugal phenomena were overcome with administrative and legal pressure, as it was the case with Tatarstan and the Urals Republic, or by means of armed actions, as was the case with the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.
Thus, separatism for Russia is an inherited factor of the social and political situation, characteristic for the major part of the country.
An extremely important element of historical memory is the memory of conflicts with neighboring ethnic groups (the Ossetian-Ingush conflict in 1992), as well as with the Russian / imperial power (Stalin’s deportation of Chechens, Ingushes, Balkars and Karachays, the war in Chechnya in the Russian Federation time, etc.). These events have the character of actual collective trauma to a number of ethnic groups.
An example of the formation and support of the separatist movement in eastern Ukraine.
A new factor of strengthening the centrifugal tendencies in Russia has been active since 2014 – separatist movements in eastern Ukraine, created and supported by the authorities of the Russian Federation. This is a new factor, as the Russian authorities’ support of the self-proclaimed Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and indirectly – Nagorno-Karabakh has stopped to be perceived as support for separatism. Addictive effect has been forming for twenty years in the population of Russia – people have stopped considering these quasi-states as the result of a secession. The military invasion of Russia to the east of Ukraine is submitted to public opinion as a war of the population of the eastern territories against the state of Ukraine. This war is accompanied with active and massive information support by the Russian media controlled by the authorities. Separatism is deliberately not called separatism during this campaign, no similarities are allowed between anti-terrorist operation of Ukraine and counter-terrorist operation of the Russian Federation on the territory of the Chechen Republic. Despite this, the support for separatism in eastern Ukraine legitimizes the right of the people of the Russian regions for separation, including separation from Russia, in the public opinion of Russians. Experts point out enhancing destructiveness of public consciousness as a result of the impact of the war in eastern Ukraine. Alexander Gromov says, commenting on the results of the survey by “Levada Centre” on involving leaders of Lugansk and Donetsk republics into political activities of Russia (such involvement approve 30%): “Request for destabilization is one of the main consequences of the Ukrainian events in Russia. Dissatisfaction of much of the population with the arrangement of Russian life has found the way out in not trying to change it (it is perceived as something fundamentally impossible), but in an effort to destroy it”.
The immediate impact of events in eastern Ukraine on the state of separatism in Russia was expressed, for instance, in attempts to conduct the so-called “Marches of federalization” in August 2014. The Marches did not intend to raise the question of withdrawal Kuban or Siberia from the Russian Federation, their organizers would have demonstrated the danger of provoking separatism and its support by the authorities of the country to which separatism is a real threat. The Russian Federal Security Service and the police with the assistance of specially trained people who are not serving in these agencies, suppressed the attempts of mass actions “For the federalization of Siberia” in Novosibirsk, “For the federalization of Kuban” in Krasnodar and “For federalization of Kaliningrad Province” in Kaliningrad.
Factors hindering centrifugal processes.
Several powerful processes prevent the centrifugal processes.
Dissociation of political and administrative elites of the Russian Federation.
Informal ties between several subjects of the Russian Federation are absent that could act jointly implementing a common policy. Contradictions between the elites of neighbouring federal subjects are very high even in the North Caucasus, with the superficial socio-cultural proximity of indigenous ethnic groups. Only the Chechen Republic attempts to play the role of “big brother” for their neighbours, but these attempts are actively opposed.
Administrative elite of the Chechen Republic promotes its political influence on other federal subjects of the North Caucasus by various methods. Some of them are non-conflict, such as charity funding of Hajj for Muslims of North Caucasus. Such religious charity increases popularity of Chechen administrative elite among the faithful of the region. Such social practice as charity gives no reason for administrative elites of other republics and territories to counteract in an open way and therefore cannot be referred to as evident conflictogenous factor. At the same time, the practice is perceived by administrative elites of other federal subjects as interference in their affairs.
The attempts of the leaders of the Chechen Republic to establish regional dominance in the confessional area meet with even stronger rebuff. The example is the conflict between administrative elites of the Republic of Ingushetia and the Chechen Republic in 2015-2016. The reason of the conflict were the suspicions of the leaders of the Chechen Republic as for some religious authorities of Ingushetia: some known Islamic authorities popular in Ingushetia were accused by the leadership of the neighbouring Republic in belonging to religious fundamentalism. The meeting of 2 February, 2016 of the traditional trends of Islam in Chechnya and Ingushetia in Achkhoy-Martan mosque involving muftis of both republics, leader of batalhadji tarikat, and leaders of the Chechen Republic saw allegations of violating rights of tarikats in Ingushetia and the need to stop this not only by Ingushis but also Chechens. There was an assembly of the followers of tarikats (Sufi brotherhoods) Nakshbandiya and Kadariya on 2 February, 2016 in the central mosque of Grozny. The event adopted a resolution, which contains harsh criticism of Islamic fundamentalism: “We, the followers of nakshbandiya and kadariya tarikats condemn terrorism in all its manifestations and recognize Wahhabism as a terrorist trend aimed against the major sharia laws for the purpose of dividing Muslims around the world. We stress that Wahhabism similar to other trends, which are intended to destroy the integrity of the Muslim Ummah have extremist character”. It is important that the gathering of Grozny tarikatists heard accusations against the Ingush theologians, causing a rapid consolidation of Ingush supporters of the Imam of Nasyr-Kort mosque – founder of special school of the Arabic language in Malgobek. It was proposed to Ingush authorities not to give the floor to those Islamic figures called by name and suspected in Salafism in one of the speeches at the meeting of adherents of Sufism in Grozny, on 2 February, 2016. It was stressed that “if the authorities of Ingushetia will not take measures, it will not be difficult to stop these two.” Ingush theologians had received threats, published in Internet even before the event in Grozny.
Fatwa was approved “On the inherent differences between true Islam and misconception” at the conference “Who are they – followers of the Sunnah?” in Grozny on 27.08.2016. That fatwa labeled Salafits as “lost sects”. The Grozny fatwa was sharply criticized by many Muslim organizations, including the Council of Muftis of Russia at the meeting of co-chairs on 26/09/2016. The resolution of the meeting said: “After a detailed analysis of fatwa “On the inherent differences between true Islam and misconception” it was obvious that it mainly reflected the realities of one of the regions and does not give Russian Muslims a reliable document that would guide them in inherent signs of true Islam, distinguishing it from misconception”. This text clearly shows (“realities of a region”) that members of the Council of Muftis do not accept the attempt of the leadership of the Chechen Republic to achieve dominance among Russian muslims.
Federal districts are a formal association of federal subjects, plenipotentiary representatives of the President of Russia in the districts are fully under control of the presidential administration. In fact, the federal districts are not a platform for uniting subjects of the Russian Federation.
The association of ethnic groups is the only structure that currently exists and combines several subjects of the Russian Federation in the informal groups, which could potentially contribute to the centrifugal processes. The Association of Finno-Ugric peoples of Russia is a public movement according to its legal form. The World Assembly of Turkic peoples, established in Kazan in 1991, is an international organization.
The objective obstacle for centrifugal process is the lack of economic self-sufficiency of the overwhelming majority of federal subjects.
Federal subjects cannot exist without extremely close economic relations with other subjects.The territory of the Russian Federation subjects was formed with the account of several factors, including foreign economic. For instance, the boundaries of the constituent republics took into account the habitat of the titular ethnic group of the given republic. As a result, the area of many of federal subjects, especially in the North Caucasus, is small and cannot provide even a minimum standard of consumption for the population of these territories. The lack of economic self-suffiency of a certain subject of the Russian Federation was confirmed as a result of a natural experiment – the existence of de facto sovereign Chechen Republic of Ichkeria in 1996-2000.
A major obstacle for strengthening the centrifugal tendencies of the border regions of Russia is the population’s fear of the neighbouring countries or the thought that these nations cannot be efficient economic partners. Disintegration of the border regions of the Russian Federation means the inevitability of their more active interaction with neighbouring countries. But what, according to the elites and the population of Russia, can be expected from these neighbours? The population of Russian subjects bordering China fear to be annexed by China. “According to public polls in Russia, more than 50% of those living in the Far East believe rapidly growing China to be a “potential threat.” The presence of democratic and attractive partners like South Korea and Japan in the area is much less active. The elite of federal subjects at the Russian Far East, and the population of the region, have currently no other guarantees from the Chinese annexation (protectorate), except military forces of Russia. International mechanisms of protection against annexations used in connection with the annexation of the Crimea by Russia, until now have not proven their efficiency.
Relations between the elite of the Russian border subjects with Kazakhstan, Georgia, and Azerbaijan are burdened with suspicions of discrimination of Russians and other “non-titular” population of these nations. Moreover, the above states are not considered as economic partners, which could, if necessary, provide efficient assistance in the development of economy, creating new sources of income for residents of neighbouring areas. Thus, much of the population of the Russian Federation subjects in the North Caucasus republics is currently focused on getting income not in their republics. The sources of income usually are business, criminal activities, working in security structures in other subjects of Russia. In the event of secession from the Russian Federation, the population of these areas risks losing the chance of getting income outside their “national territories” and lose opportunities to create income sources in neighbouring countries – Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey.
The anti-regime conspiracies of “medium level elites” are hindered by promotion to the posts of governors of persons dependent on Putin. The most striking manifestation of this practice is the appointment of former officers of the Federal Guarding Service (FSO) acting Governors. These are former body-guards (adjutants) of Putin, who owe him personally and therefore extremely loyal. Former employees of the FSO are appointed acting following early resignation of previous governors. Appointment of the guards started to practice in 2016, when persons who had been previously employees of the FSO, were appointed heads of Tula, Yaroslavl and Kaliningrad provinces (E. Zinichev, appointed then acting governor of the Kaliningrad region, left the post three months after appointment due to the obvious problems with publicity). Time appointment personally loyal to Putin people to their electing governors is sufficient for their being elected unopposed as a result of the propaganda campaign by the federal and regional media. In general, the governor corps was significantly updated in Russia after 2012, following the third election of President V. Putin. Thus, the results of research by O.V. Mezhenina (2015) showed that more than 60% of incumbent governors had the first term of their duties. The number of new appointments of not independent and personally loyal to Putin people as governors increased in 2016.
The high level of support for the regime of Vladimir Putin by Russians.
This can be mainly explained by an artificial extremely high “patriotic” zealousness of the Russian society. The idea of ”Russia in a ring of enemies” is intentionally strengthened in public consciousness by active state propaganda. However, there is a regularity of fatigue from high levels of aggression and psychological tension inevitable for “patriotic” mobilization. The fatigue began to appear shortly after the election of deputies to the State Duma. The election campaign was another “patriotic appeal.” All-Russian public poll held on 23-26 September, 2016 by Levada Centre on a representative sample of urban and rural population showed falling confidence to many state institutions. Government rating was the lowest for the last five years (26%) confidence in the State Duma fell from 40 to 22% during a year, and even the church lost 10 points. Most Russians trust the president, but even his rating fell from 80 to 74%. Commenting on these results, deputy director of the Levada Centre Alexei Grazhdankin said that any deterioration of relations with the West would encourage citizens to support the authorities, and the increase of confidence in the president and the armed forces would lead to increased figures of other institutions. Although, according to A. Grazhdankin, people are less responsive to such incentives, and each new “appeal” would deaden patriotism.
The effect of “mobilization fatigue” for the Russian society is extremely important for the prediction of disintegration processes and forecast of political behavior of Russians. The more often one can hear calls of the authorities to rally around them, the faster comes ” the psychological fatigue” for those whom they are trying to mobilize with these calls. Mobilization appeals are used by the federal authorities, and not those of the Russian Federation subjects. The latter only broadcast appeals for support for Putin and Russia’s political course on its territory, but usually do not call to consolidate around the head of the federal subject. The only exception is personal regime of R. Kadyrov in the Chechen Republic, which uses three levels of mobilization: all-Russian, all-ethnic (Chechen community throughout the Russian Federation) and republican. This important exception, which requires a separate study, still does not change the picture in Russia in general. Thus, frequent calls for mobilization tire out not only Russian society as a whole, but also ethnic minorities due to their entry into the state formation.
It is important that mobilization appeals are heard against the background of deteriorating economic situation in Russia, and this deterioration has caused discomfort of the population and is turning into a factor is political sentiments. Levada Centre analyst Natalia Sharp says: “There is a very strong fall in confidence in the government, the Prime Minister, local authorities, governors. This is disappointment, return to reality, in a way, because now people have been actively pointing out the crisis, talking about it, afraid of it. This return to reality happened last year already after the annexation of the Crimea, and it is beginning to affect certainly the attitude of all institutions”.
Countering centrifugal process by the authorities. This factor is important in the overall system of factors, and it should be considered separately.
The level of public perception of separatism by the population of the Russian Federation.
The basis of separatism is relative deprivation of large social groups and desire of regional elites to be in charge of resources. Thus, to assess the level of commitment of the people to separatism is possible with regard to the situation with public opinion. However, this criterion can be used to study the problem of separatism growth only indirectly, because no mass empirical research of the state of public opinion on separation and autonomy have been held in recent years in Russia. We can assume that a reason for the small number of studies on this topic is the fear of researchers to make a political mistake in interpreting the obtained data, which could be easily considered as a crime.
Incompleteness of the empirical base determines superficiality of the analysis of separatism by Russian authors. A rare exception is the Levada Centre poll held on 15-18 November 2013. The question was: “How would you react if the region in which you live, separates from Russia?” The answers were: “Positive” – 1%, “rather positive” – 7%. Negative attitudes towards secession obviously prevail. This same question was answered: “Rather negative” – 26%, “very negative” – 61%. Based on the results of this study, we can draw a conclusion about the weakness of the social base of the idea of separatism in Russia. But the all-Russian researches of the problem of separatism are unproductive, because they do not characterize from the regional aspect. This aspect is undoubtedly the most important. Obviously, the 8% of separatism sympathizers on the average in Russia could be majority in some regions.
The poll of VCIOM (Russian Centre for Public Polls) of 27-28.09.2014 on the attitude of Russians to separatism showed that at least 42% of the respondents supported the desire of regions to separate, about 30% had a negative attitude to the idea of division, and 28% did not have an opinion. However, these data do not make us sure that during the year since the survey of Levada Centre opinion of Russians has changed: 37% believe that every case of division of the country is unique, and if one of the regions should be given the right to self-determination, others – no.
Close data were obtained in spring 2014. Sociological company of Pew Research Center (USA), based on the results of its survey, found that nearly half of Russians were ready to “let go” some of the territories. The study raised the question: “Should territorial entities of the Russian Federation be allowed to leave the Federation if they want to?” A positive response was given by 48% of respondents, 39% were against the right for federalization. The survey was held from 4 to 20 April, 2014, the sample was 1000 persons.
There were no results of representative federal polls on separatism in the public domain after the above-mentioned VCIOM poll in 2014.
The Russian Federation is not a federation, founded as a result of voluntary association of states. The federal structure of Russia is the result of the attempt during the Soviet period to solve the problem of ethnic and economic heterogeneity of the country. In fact, Russia is a successor to the empire created by the accession of new areas, in particular through conquest. That is why the population has no idea of the federal structure and unity of the country as significant values. Secession in such conditions is seen as an acceptable instrument of solving development problems. In other words, the separation of a part of the territory from Russia can be perceived by the population of these areas as possible and permissible. Secession is justified in the minds of the elite social groups by one of three goals (or a combination of several of them): economic growth, preservation of cultural identity or the human rights / democracy development in separated areas.
Supporters of autonomy or secession use some basic ideologemes. These emotive elements of ideology are formed as derivatives from reasons of deprivation in each region. Earlier, the author studied the system of the ideologemes of the North Caucasus separatists. It includes:
1. Hyperpositive ethnic identity (idea of systematic superiority of their ethnic group over all others, in particular, on the basis of better preservation of “popular culture bases”) combined with the idea of the threat of losing identity.
2. Negative historical memory (memory of conflicts, wars, deportations and other events separating “us” from “them”).
3. The concept of economic oppression of their ethnic group (or Muslims in general), the exploitation of its resources.
4. The concept of systematic violation “of rights of ethnos” or religious group now.
5. Belief that the international community is obliged to support the struggle for the “right of the people for self-determination.” It is worth pointing out that this idea is not used by Salafit separatists, for whom non-Islamic world is a collective enemy. Salafits count only on the support of the Muslim Ummah (religious community, at a global scale).
The above ideologemes are universal for bearers of separatist sentiments and are not confined to the North Caucasus. The presence of such guidelines in public opinion indicates the presence of separatism potential in the region.
In the period before 2018 a radical change of public opinion in Russia can be expected, and loyalty to the authorities might decrease. This change may lead in some regions to the increase of separatist sentiments.
Types of separatism in modern Russia and classification of the Russian Federation subjects in terms of perception of separatism.
Research of separatism in contemporary Russia inevitably raises the point of its classification as an important instrument of applied analysis. Attempts to create such classification have already been made. D.I. Shcherbinin singles out two types of separatism in terms of the present Siberian one: secessionist and autonomist republican, and within the first type – two orientations: Russian and anti-Russian. Only one reason for the classification of one level was used in this case – activeness of separatist sentiments and manifestations.
M.O. Domareva proposed more detailed and actual typology of separatism. This author suggested the typology of separatism on several bases. M.O. Domareva determines economic, legal, and ideological separatism using such a basis as the scope of manifestation; separatism can be bilateral and multilateral according to the number of actors; the ideological basis forms ethnic, religious and regional separatism; political goals in the region can provide separatism in the form of secession, irredentism or political autonomy; the dynamics of functioning can distinguish evolutionary and radical separatism; aims of political activeness in the region divide separatism into tactical and strategic; social significance analysis reveals archaic and progressive separatism; duration criterion provides one-time or permanent separatism; the character of display defines actual and formal separatism.
Given the realities of the modern information society, the above typology by M.O. Domareva should be supplemented by types according to criteria of the way of communication. The author of the report examined electronic resources (websites, groups in virtual social networks), which supported raising the level of autonomy of various areas from the federal centre and which were present in RuNet in 2014. It is necessary to stress a rapid increase in the number of such electronic resources in the second half of the first decade of the 21st century. These resources are the centres of virtual consolidation of people who are unable to communicate “in real life”, but united by similar ideas. These electronic resources are of two main subspecies: sites and groups (open and closed) in networks Facebook and VKontakte.
The author believes that the typology of separatism should be supplemented with such species as virtual (appearing in the Internet) and real (appearing in the real space). Recently, Russia has got a pronounced tendency of enhancing virtual separatism. It is worth noting that in some cases the virtual separatism is a preparatory stage for action in real social space. However, much of the virtual separatist activeness remains online, without practical continuation.
The author believes, the above classification of Russian separatism in modern conditions of rapid change is difficult to use. It can be used for more profound analysis in terms of completeness of information.
It is appropriate to use another classification for practical purposes under conditions of incomplete information, taking into account factors which characterize in the system probability of centrifugal manifestations in federal subjects. It should be briefly explained that centrifugal tendencies, such as the desire for separation from Russia, may occur not only at the level of the Russian Federation subject, but at the level of municipality. And such cases previously happened. But the manifestations of separatism / autonomism at the municipal level are not important at the scale of federal processes.
The author offers natural classification of the federal subjects according to the system of factors of separatism:
1. Ethnic specificity of the federal subject (share of non-Russians in the population of the federal subject).
2. Confessional subject of originality (the share of people who practice religions other than Orthodoxy).
3. Regional specificity of the federal subject (manifestation of particular regional identity of the Russian population in the area).
4. Deviation of economic indicators of the federal subject from the average in the country (both in the direction of wealth and poverty).
5. The share of persons at the territory of the federal subject affected by repressions and / or military operations in the latest period of history (since 1991).
6. The presence or absence of the external borders of the federal subject (separatists in the regions, which are not inside the Russian Federation, but on its external borders, are able to receive support from abroad, which significantly increases the centrifugal potential).
Provided several factors are united in the Russian Federation subject, it increases the probability of centrifugal tendencies and their highest manifestation – separatism.
Opposing centrifugal processes on the part of the authorities.
Increase of centrifugal tendencies and their manifestation in practice carries a real threat not only for the state elite, but for much of the population Russia. The main among these threats is secession of resource-rich areas from Russia. The central authorities consider the separation of the areas which produce oil and gas and which are the basis of “hydrocarbon” economy of the entire Russian Federation to be especially dangerous threat. Provided this threat is implemented, Russia would cease to exist as an important subject of international politics. Such prospects are considered by the Russian authorities as totally unacceptable. Separatism in Russia is a potential factor of political changes not only in this country but in the whole Eurasian region.
The Federal authorities are aware of the danger of centrifugal tendencies. They try to form additional “braces” that would reduce the impact of regional heterogeneity. In this regard, significant is the approval by Vladimir Putin the idea of developming and adopting the federal law on the Russian nation at a meeting of the Council on Interethnic Relations. The authors of the idea are positioning the nation as a political co-citizenship, i.e. a supra-ethnic superstructure.
Federal authorities are also aware of the danger of social and political destabilization. This, for example, is proven by the meetings with political analysts and technologists, chaired by the first deputy head of presidential administration Sergei Kiriyenko on 1-3 November 2016. Those meetings dealt with the technology that would allow a representative of the current authorities to win the presidential election in 2018 maintaining socio-political stability.
Separatism which in practice is identified with any centrifugal process, is considered by the central Russian authorities as one of the most important security threats. This is confirmed by innovations in federal legislation. The Federal Law of 28 December 2013 r. # 433-FZ “On Amendments to the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation” inserted a new article (280.1) into the Criminal Code, according to which imprisonment for up to 3 years is envisaged for public calls to commit acts aimed at violating territorial integrity of the Russian Federation (in 2014 the term was extended to 4 years), and for the same actions using the media and the Internet – up to 5 years.
The authorities’ fear of separatism in modern Russia should also be measured by other criteria, and not only on the basis of exacerbating the criminal law. The most important of these criteria – toughening the methods of law enforcing agencies aimed against persons and organizations suspected of separatism. The growing fears of power were manifested in the new scenario of exercises of law-enforcing forces in breaking up mass rallies of separatists. Presumably, the new scenario was approved in late 2014 – early 2015. This is confirmed by the following: joint exercises of the internal security troops of the Ministry of Interior and the police were held on 30 May 2015 in Tyumen. The exercise scenario envisaged: approximately 2,000 residents of Tyumen called for federalization, i.e. raising the status of territory or separation from Russia. These people built a barricade and a tent camp in the centre of the city as it had been done in 2013 at the Maidan in Kyiv. The barricades were demolished by armored personnel carriers during the exercises and there was simulation of shooting protesters with heavy machine guns from the armored personnel carriers. It is important that a year before the guns of armored personnel carriers (APCs) were used only for deterrent fire (above the heads of gathered protesters) events during similar exercises in Saratov in the spring of 2014. Thus, shooting people with machine guns still was not envisaged by scenario of exercises in 2014. Shooting participating in the meeting with a 14.5 mm machine gun cannot be selective, i.e. aimed only against armed and dangerous. This method of termination a rally will inevitably lead to a large number of victims. Changing methods of suppression of separatist actions in a short time demonstrates the rapidly growing fear of Russian power and its willingness to resort to extremely violent methods of suppression of separatism.
While averting “the Marches for federalization” in Krasnodar and Novosibirsk in 2014, the Federal Security Service of Russia (FSB) used, in addition to law enforcement officers also militants, who were not officially at the civil service. Judging by the specific tattoos, those persons belonged to the organizations of Russian nationalists. The task of those militants was to use violence against participants of the “Marches for federalization.”
“The Marches for federalization” were not held either in Krasnodar or in Novosibirsk. Nevertheless, the FSB detained civic activists – organizers of the marches, which had not been held. They were prosecuted. For instance, public activist from Krasnodar Daria Polyudova became the first Russian woman, who was accused of public appeals to violate the territorial integrity of Russia in accordance with article 280.1 of the Criminal Code for an attempt of “March for the federalization of Kuban”. She was also charged for public calls to extremist activity in accordance with article 280 of the Criminal Code. In 2014- 2015 she spent six months in the investigatory isolation ward in Krasnodar, and was released as a result of active public campaign. However, she was sentenced later to a real term of imprisonment in a penal colony-settlement and is currently serving the term.
The Russian regime chose the so-called “point” repressions as the main prevention strategy against centrifugal processes. This type of political repressions is characterized by a relatively small number of victims. There is no need in mass repressions for the Russian authorities now – the majority of the population of the country supports the regime. However, criminal or administrative proceedings are initiated against civic activists who can organize people in case of spontaneous massive anti-government protests, based on false accusations and gross human rights violations. The strategy of “point” repression is aimed at eliminating potential consolidation centres of any civil protest, including separatism.
The number of victims of point repressions in Russia is growing. According to the Judicial Department of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, 544 persons were convicted in Russia in 2015 for extremist activities or incitement to extremism; another 110 persons – for terrorism and calls to it. The number of convicted of extremism in 2015 increased by a quarter compared to 2014. Such increase in scale does not exclude the effect of a “repressive wave”.
Political killings and falsification of criminal cases with long terms of imprisonment are actively used in the North Caucasus in order to remove the person from public activities. Extrajudicial reprisals have become a major problem in the region, mainly to the Chechen Republic, Republic of Ingushetia, the Republic of Daghestan, Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria. An indication of the importance of the problem is creating social protest movements aiming at combating extrajudicial repressions. Thus, an organization called “Mother’s Heart” was created in October, 2016 in Daghestan.
Administrative cases for a period up to 15 days of arrest are fabricated to intimidate the leaders of ethnic movements and increase their loyalty. Thus, Asker Soht, chairman of the Adygeyan National Society of the Krasnodar Territory “Adyhe Hase”, was detained in January, 2014 on the outskirts of Krasnodar. He was falsely accused for not meeting the requirements of the police and sentenced to 15 days of administrative arrest. Officers of the Federal Security Service (FSB) were not officially associated with the case. But they told the “Adyhe Hase” colleagues of A. Sohta that his arrest was a preventive measure. Representatives of the FSB forbade A. Sohtu and his colleagues to tell anyone about the case. Probably, due to such prohibitions public knows little about the facts of intimidation of leaders of ethnic organizations and individuals who promote the ideas of separatism. As a result of the action of intimidation, A. Soht has started to popularize the ideas of the federal authorities in his public speeches.
Public opinion in Russia is predisposed to be definitely negative to terrorism and extremism after two wars in the North Caucasus and numerous terrorist attacks. Due to efforts in propaganda in public opinion, any dissent is put on the same footing as the preparation of terrorist acts or other subversive activities linked with violence.
Catalysts centrifugal processes.
Prerequisites of centrifugal processes are extremely stable throughout history, beginning with the period of the Russian Empire, and some are even earlier. These prerequisites were described above.
An answer to the following question is very important in practical terms: “What are the catalysts i.e. booster conditions for centrifugal processes?”
The main of these catalysts, which traditionally creates an opportunity for the implementation of separatist sentiments throughout history of Russia, is weakening the state centre. The centre was imperial, Soviet or federal in its historical development. The conclusion about weakening the state centre as sufficient reason for the rapid strengthening of separatism was made fifteen years ago. This conclusion has found evidence in scolar studies in recent years. Thus, according to A.A. Akhmetov, separatism is updated at critical peaks of legitimacy of the state power. In case of a crisis of the central power, highly probable under an authoritarian regime, advocates of separatism may get a real opportunity to implement plans for secession. Such a crisis could be also triggered by a sudden or accidental cause (for instance death or illness of the President of the Russian Federation). The upsurge of separatist activeness in the Russian Empire and the Russian Federation was held according to the aforementioned scenario, i.e. it began after the “paralysis” of the central power, respectively, in February 1917 and in August 1991. Neither in 1917 nor in 1991 separatism was a factor of the collapse of the central power, but only its aftereffect.
Important catalyst is spreading the ideas about low efficiency of state administration and injustice of the current power. The author does this conclusion using materials of focus groups in the North Caucasus republics and individual expert interviews held there. The concept of low efficiency of public administration creates the idea of ignoring the interests of the regions and their economic exploitation by the Central authorities. This view, according to the author, causes mass relative deprivation of the population of areas of Russia both inhabited by Russians and all other territories. A vivid illustration of such sentiments was the dialogue during the focus group held with the participation of the author of this material on 9 November, 2011 in Grozny, the administrative centre of the Chechen Republic:
– We [in Chechnya] purely symbolic should be the pay for gas for example, and petrol. We have already overtaken Saudi Arabia in oil production. And petrol … We are the oil producing republic!
– And we are importing petrol, you know? We do not use that of our own. We are oil-producing republic, but we have more expensive petrol than in other regions of Russia.
In areas with a predominantly non-Russian population the idea about low efficiency of the central power also causes the opinion of a deliberate suppression of ethnic identity of the groups.
In the context of this report, the author believes that L. Shevtsova has made a very important conclusion about different causes of dissent in two cities – Moscow and St. Petersburg – on the one hand, and other areas of Russia on the other: “The most important thing – is a problem, obviously, of economic crises, refrigerator and economic interests of the majority population. And in the big cities that are political trendsetters (Moscow and St. Petersburg) – this is a problem of complex of humiliated population, the problem of dignity, a political problem. For people have come out here, about 300 thousand, but it happened not due to economic incentives”.
The author agrees with the conclusion of L. Shevtsova about various causes of dissent in various regions of Russia. As it has been shown above, the Russian Federation belongs to the countries with a very high level of economic and cultural diversity (heterogeneity) of its regions. The economic heterogeneity is manifested in different levels of productivity of labour; the presence or absence of up-to-date sectors of the economy etc. The level of economic development of a region and the structure of its economy in some way affect the perception of ideas of separatism by its population. However, the level of economic development is not directly affecting the development of separatism. Aspiring for separation of a part of the state may be observed both in relatively “rich” and “poor” areas. If the “poor” tend to isolate themselves, to “put an end to the exploitation from the part of the metropolis”, the “rich” are doing the same thing to “get rid of dependants”. The growth of separatist sentiments is also greatly influenced by the dynamics of economic development of various regions inhabited by different ethnic groups within one country. At this point there are opportunities for comparison and negative assessment of their own situation or, more importantly – the situation of the group. As a result, there is a feeling of relative deprivation on ethnic/regional basis. Thus, economic factors are not the main in the system of centrifugal processes.
Aggressive propaganda should be named as an active catalyst for disintegration, which is mainly implemented by the state in Russia. This is manifested in the form of approval of violence by separatists in eastern Ukraine, violence against non-combatants in Syria, violence of activists loyal to the authorities against representatives of the Russian opposition. Approval of violence and its legitimization in public opinion is also carried out by removing the Russian law-enforcing agencies from responsibility for illegal violence against citizens. This strategy leads to the expansion of boundaries of acceptable violence, forming opinions about the possibility of violence, including for the separation of “their” territory.
The forecast of what catalysts and in what conditions will produce a stronger impact on the socio-political situation is very complicated. The reason is that the guidelines of public consciousness in Russia are not logical, and often absolutely incompatible notions coexist in them. It was confirmed by the study “Perception of freedom by the residents of Russia” carried out in the summer of 2016 by the Moscow office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung). The overwhelming majority of respondents of the study (95.9%) called for the government to control the prices for basic foodstuff. However, over 60% have nothing against competition in the economy, and 71.5% referred to the economic development of Russia as top priority. Almost two thirds (65.9%) answered yes to the question whether the state should collect personal data of citizens for security reasons. More than 70% do not need free media. At the same time, 57% want Russia to be a democratic country.
In various regions of Russia the sources of discontent of people with their position may be different. Accordingly, the causes and nature of possible mass protest actions vary. This applies to the protest actions of the democratic opposition and separatist activities.
Proceeding from the above, it is crucial to point out low efficiency of the state “vertical” in Russia. The low efficiency means not only a weak ability of authorities to perform certain functions defined by law. Equally important is the fact that territorial authorities are less and less able to be efficient in fulfilling commands “from above”. The same is happening in law-enforcing agencies. The existence of this problem is confirmed by attempts of the federal authorities to solve it. Among these attempts we see structural reforms such as the formation of Russian Guards. Even more revealing are the attempts to increase the efficiency of “law-enforcing vertical” by tougher administering. Thus, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation has prepared a draft executive order on the organization across the departmental vertical system of permanent procedural control in early November 2016. The heads of the units of the Investigative Committee were ordered to strengthen supervision of their subordinates. Analysts drew attention to the following: it was not clear, what was the need in making such documents. Investigators, including their various chiefs, should act on the grounds set out in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CCP), the Law on Investigative Committee of Russia and in its regulations, approved by a presidential decree.
Forecast of centrifugal processes in the Russian Federation.
Activeness of separatism has been traditionally defined by such condition as the strength of the central authorities. Throughout history of separatism it was imperial, Soviet, or the federal power that fundamentally has not affected the relations of the Russian centre and the periphery. It is important to emphasize that the relatively high level of separatist trends has been constantly present and is present in the mass consciousness of the population of the Russian periphery. Will these sentiments be implemented in action? If yes, then when? According to the author, the answer to these questions was defined in Russia in previous historical periods, and is defined now only with the strength of central authorities’ control over the regions.
Preconditions for separatism in Russia have been stably preserved for a long time. Currently, the repressive policy of the Russian authorities against the opposition and all dissidents increases the level of confrontation between the authorities and the Russian civil society. The system of the civil society includes, among others, civil leaders and organizations aiming to separate certain territories from Russia. Destabilization of the political situation in Russia, for instance, mass violent confrontation between authorities and society, or a coup d’etat, will inevitably cause a rapid and strong activation of separatists. Unfortunately, the consequences of such activation are not explored deep enough. However, the probability of such destabilization, as well as strengthening political repressions in Russia are estimated by experts as quite high. Thus, E. Pain says: “In Russia, social and economic crisis is ripe both for internal reasons and because of the increasing international isolation of Russia. This is causing a new political delimitation in the country, which will only grow. In these circumstances it is very likely that pressure of power is going to increase on all the self-organizing ideological groups … “.
Challenges that leaders of Russia cast the world including a deliberate formation of separatist movement in eastern Ukraine and military support of the movement are extremely dangerous. They destroy the foundations of global stability in the period after the Cold War. Potentially no less dangerous for the international community is unpredictable growth of separatism in Russia and spontaneous uncontrolled collapse of the country.
The forecast of separatism in modern Russia is extremely important. Currently, the activities of the central Russian authorities are determined to a greater extent by the very idea of high danger of separatism. For instance, representatives of the ruling regime actively use the argument that ensuring unity of the Russian Federation is the merit of the regime. Moreover, the Russian president considers that the victory over the separatist regime justifies the existence of the regime. This conclusion can be drawn from Putin’s interview in the documentary film “The President”, shown on channel “Russia 1” in April 2015. Retaining the unity of the country is one of the supreme goals for the Russian authorities. This purpose justifies for the authorities human rights violations, non-compliance with laws and actual elimination of federalism as a constitutional principle in Russia.
The increase of centrifugal tendencies and disintegration of Russia are quite possible as a result of long-term stagnation. Actually stagnation is predicted by the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia in the long term (until 2035) forecast of socio-economic development: stagnation, low oil prices, industrial production growth not more than 2% per year. Long-term economic stagnation, especially on thebackground of the economic success of neighbouring countries, will inevitably increase relative deprivation of mass social groups and attempts of Russian high-risk subjects to solve economic problems by leaving Russia. This forecast is most probable with the account of available information. The forecast of economic development of Russia until 2035 prepared by the Centre for Strategic Research under the guidance of former Finance Minister A. Kudrin, is much more optimistic and foresees the possibility of increasing the gross domestic product of Russia 2 times during this period. However, according to experts of the Centre for Strategic Research, it is possible provided structural reforms and active investment are available, both domestic and foreign. Such conditions are difficult to achieve under the political regime established by V. Putin.
Conclusions and recommendations.
Despite stiff opposition from the federal government and its territorial bodies, both representatives of the elite and mass social groups occasionally resort to actions objectively aimed at enhancing centrifugal trends. Motivation of the above actions for representatives of mass and elite groups now radically differs. However, the results of actions of both have one direction, which can be devastating in the case of all-Russian crisis. Regional elites use the following methods to objectively enhance disintegration preconditions:
1. Regulatory consolidation/confirmation of special rights/preferences for titular ethnic groups of the Russian Federation subjects.
2. Promotion of representatives of the titular ethnos to administrative posts in the federal subjects.
3. Formation of units in the Armed Forces and Interior Ministry entirely or mainly made up of representatives of the titular ethnic groups.
4. Public manifestations of disagreement with actions of representatives of the federal authorities at the territory of the federal subject.
Representatives of mass social groups use:
1. Armed opposition to the authorities (mainly at the North Caucasus, the Caucasus Emirate members which is in the UN sanctions list and banned in some countries).
2. Holding/attempts to hold public events demonstrating dissatisfaction with the actions of the federal centre with regard to regions.
3. Criticism of actions of the federal authorities with regard to Russian subjects by civil society activists and other opinion leaders.
It is necessary to analyze in detail the whole system of protest activities in modern Russia, and not just those directly affecting the centrifugal tendencies. Results of protest activities of any trend are important for the forecast of socio-political situation and, therefore, for understanding disintegration opportunities of the Russian Federation or change of the political regime.
The basic premises of centrifugal processes in modern Russia are:
1. A high level of regional heterogeneity (economic, social, cultural, demographic, religious, state and municipal governing, civil society). Heterogeneity of Russia increases.
2. The presence of grounds for relative deprivation.
3. The negative historical memory.
4. Example of the formation and support by the Russian authorities of separatist movement in eastern Ukraine.
Prerequisite for centrifugal processes with potentially high dynamics is the availability of grounds for relative deprivation. These grounds have different configuration in different regions of the Russian Federation (federal subjects and macro-regions, such as North Caucasus). This premise can be purposefully influenced from outside Russia.
It is advisable to conduct a detailed applied analysis of the latent and open regional conflicts in the Russia Federation (ethnic, religious, in relations between public and authorities) to understand the factors that will influence the efficiency of the “power vertical” and intensify centrifugal tendencies.
The system of factors curbing centrifugal tendencies in Russia is now much stronger than the centrifugal potential. This system includes:
1. Disunity of political and administrative elites of federal subjects.
2. Inability to be economically self-sustained for vast majority of federal subjects.
3. The fear of the population of the border regions of neighbouring states or the opinion about the inability of these countries to be efficient economic partners.
4. Practice of appointing persons dependent on V.Putin as governors.
5. High level of Russians’ support to Putin’s regime.
6. Counteracting centrifugal process by the authorities.
The increase of centrifugal potential is possible by organizing information work with multiple sectors of the Russian society. This work is currently carried out insufficiently with Western democracies – only with previously established structures (i.e. “Radio Freedom”) while Ukraine is not carrying it out at all. The nations of the European Union and Ukraine, as it can be concluded from the current activities, are focused on the “defensive strategy” in the information sphere.
It is advisable to promote frequent mobilization appeals in Russia by the authorities. Provoking such calls is possible at interstate and international relations:
1. Rejection of initiatives of the Russian regime must take place in public, it should be widely covered in media and online resources that do not belong to media, and flow through Internet channels to Russia. Hence, the scale and importance of declined initiatives do not matter, only the scope and power of information flow on the fact of deviation are important, i.e. unfriendly behaviour towards the authorities of the Russian Federation.
2. Negative assessments of the actions of the Russian regime both in international relations and domestic policy should become more frequent and cover wider range of issues. The Russian policy in other countries (Ukraine, Syria, etc.) is subject to harsh criticism and is the basis for strengthening the mobilization pressure of the Russian authorities on Russian society. However, the political situation within Russia is just beginning to be used by other countries as an object of criticism. At the same time, the possibilities of such criticism are enormous: regular mass violations of rights of citizens of the Russian Federation; violation of the rights of foreigners (including citizens of Ukraine) staying in the Russian Federation; economic policy, leading to the deteriorating of economic situation of Russians and others.
The most massive and “popular” social networks should be used as a sound channel of informing residents of the Russian Federation: VKontakte, Instagram, Classmates, My World. Facebook has already become a tool of providing objective information to the users of the network and the platform of broad criticism of Russian authorities. However, the number of Facebook users in Russia is relatively small – about 21 million persons, while a site VKontakte has registered more than 380 million users, of which about 65% live in Russia. According to Alexa Internet, VKontakte is the third most popular site in Russia and Ukraine. The monthly audience (the number of people entering the site at least once a month) of VKontakte, according to Brand Analytics, is more than 46 million people, in the social network Classmates – more than 31 million, Facebook – more than 21 million, My World – 16 million, Instagram – 12 million.
It is expedient to encourage active uploading of specially trained users into the popular social networks in Russia for carrying out information work. The purpose of the work is not convincing Russian users of wrong policy of the present regime, but to enhance their relative deprivation by demonstrating opposition to such a regime by the outside world, showing its failures and defeats.
Perseption by Russians of ideas of separation/autonomy is controversial. On the one hand, a very significant percentage of the inhabitants of Russia (42% according to investigation by the Russian Centre for Investigation of Public Opinion in 2014) do not oppose intentions of regions to secede from Russia. On the other, each case of the attempt to separate would be considered by public opinion individually. Support for secession attempt does not apply to the separation of the territory where respondents live (only about 8% of the Levada Centre inquiry in 2013). It can be assumed that Russians are ready to “let go” the most disturbing and problematic areas (for example, part of the North Caucasus), but they are not willing to support withdrawal from the Russian Federation in their region. The growing of “exit” sentiments can be both gradual and avalanche-like.
The assessment of the level of separatism in contemporary Russia is difficult due to a weak empirical basis, characterizing the basic criterion – the approval by public opinion of the idea of secession of a region from the Russian Federation. The main problem is the absence of quantitative analyses by regions of Russians’ answers to the questions about their readiness to support secession of a region from the Russian Federation/strengthening autonomy of a region, as well as evaluation of relative deprivation by regions. The adequate assessment and forecast of separatist moods require a special comprehensive study (including a mass survey) of the grounds of relative deprivation in the regions of Russia and mapping its results. Such a study should include measurement of the secession/autonomy guidelines for their region: not only a direct question, but questions to assess the presence of the main separatist ideologems. The authorities of Russia are not interested in discovering the reasons and the level of relative deprivation – the main factor of protests. According to the FSB of Russia, such materials, when they become generally available, in the first place will be a tool to discredit the authorities, and second, would be the basis for the preparation of the “road map” of opposition movements. Thus we may quite confidently say that the Russian authorities will do everything possible for making obstacles for such empirical research.
The results of high quality empirical research in Russia allow us to assume the possibility of a quick (in the cause of the next two years) and significant “reversal” of public opinion of Russians towards the reduction of loyalty to the authorities.
Applied analysis of centrifugal tendencies in Russia requires the classification of areas of the country in terms of the probability of manifestations of these tendencies in practical actions. This classification should be fairly easy and take into account the inevitable incompleteness of data as for the situation in Russia. The author proposes the following system of the classification criteria:
1. Ethnic specificity of the subject of the Russian Federation.
2. Confessional specificity of the subject.
3. Regional specificity of the subject.
4. Deviation of economic indices of the subject from the national average.
5. The share of persons at the territory of the federal subject affected by repressions and/or warfare in the modern period of history (since 1991).
6. The presence/absence of external borders of the federal subject.
In terms of probability of centrifugal tendencies the federal subjects are divided into the following groups:
1. High probability group: the Chechen Republic, the Republic of Daghestan, the Republic of Ingushetia.
2. The average probability group: Kabardino-Balkar Republic, Karachai-Circassian Republic, Republic of Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Sakha Republic (Yakutia), Republic of Tyva, the Republic of Buryatia, Republic of Karelia, Kaliningrad province, Republic of the Crimea (Author includes the Crimea to federal subjects for completeness of analysis, accepting the fact of belonging the Crimea and Sevastopol to Ukraine in terms of international law).
3. The low-probability group: all other subjects of the Russian Federation.
There are now much more opportunities for force suppression of centrifugal processes than potential of separatism in case of its uncoordinated manifestations in actions of residents of different regions of Russia. The method of “point of repressions” is used to prevent the strengthening of centrifugal processes. The scale of repressions is increasing. Putin’s regime is ready to use excessive violence and large-scale bloodshed in suppressing mass protests. However, the possibility of suppressing the centrifugal processes is maintained only under the conditions of efficient functioning of the “power vertical.” Its operation may quite possibly be infringed as a result of e.g. the refusal of law-enforcing agencies to fulfil criminal orders (such precedents occurred), resulting from the fear of top commanders of the system to give such orders or suspension of these commanders.
Suppression of open separatism in Russia, also by means of force, would be supported by public opinion. The outburst of separatism in the current situation anywhere at the “national margins” of Russia would not considerably affect social and political stability. Putin’s regime has very large opportunities for repressive suppression of any even armed resistance. However, excessive use of force against participants of peaceful protests in the ethnic Russian regions will lead to the increase in resistance to the authorities.
Expansion in all forms of repression leads to the appearance of new opponents to the regime and, therefore, increases the social base of possible avalanche growth of dissent. However, victims of repressions and their supporters are scattered. The only thing that unites them is plunging into a single information content in the Internet. Real communication of these people takes place only in some North Caucasus republics, where a number of public organizations of relatives of perished and missing has been organized. Victims of political repressions in Russia quickly become a full-fledged social group. This social group should receive a clear signal that it has allies in the face of the European Union, the USA and Ukraine. Such a signal can be given in the form of publishing special reports on human rights violations in Russia.
The main reason for centrifugal processes in Russia is a high level of relative deprivation that occurs based on the idea of the injustice of the authorities in relation to “friends” (in ethnic, religious, regional affiliation). The impact on the public consciousness of Russians based on the logic is not productive. The impact which increases relative deprivation must operate at the level of emotion.
Paralysis (ceasing to function) of power vertical, especially law enforcement agencies is the main precondition for active manifestation of separatism. In other words, the centrifugal tendencies would be actively manifested as a result of destruction/suspension of actions of vertical managing system. And not vice versa, i.e. separatism is unlikely to be the cause of the destruction of power system in Russia.
The key problem is the resignation of Vladimir Putin from the post of the president of Russia. His resignation creates opportunities for radical change. Direct demands for resignation or non-nomination for the next election in 2018 would lead to the opposite result owing to the character of Putin. He pointedly defies pressure. But it should be absolutely clear for the people around him, for the Russian tycoons, heads of security services and the army that sanctions are kept and reinforced precisely because Putin is the president. Information about this relationship must be made clear for two target groups (Russian decision-makers; owners of big business; heads of security services – the FSB, GRU, Ministry of Interior).
Means of forcing to resign: the circle of functionaries of the regime of Vladimir Putin included into sanction lists should be gradually expanded. It is impractical to extend personal sanctions against the heads of the federal subjects and employees of the authorities of the Russian Federation subjects. Personal sanctions should be expanded to destroy the traditional lifestyle of the Russian federal elite (including employees of federal authorities in the federal subjects): a ban on travelling to the countries that support sanctions; a ban on the acquisition of property, including housing; ban on keeping capital and investing into the economy of the countries that supported sanctions, etc. Currently, the scope and depth of personal sanctions are evidently insufficient for the emergence paralyzing effect among Russian officials. All officials involved in the decision-making on wrongful conviction of citizens of Ukraine in the Russian Federation (police, investigators, prosecutors, judges) should be hit by sanctions. Even more important that Russian law enforcement officials involved in the violations of human and civil rights of the citizens of the Russian Federation get under sanctions (by analogy with the precedent – the “Magnitsky list”). This might start changing public opinion of Russians towards Ukraine and the Western democracies, and it is a necessary condition for changing the political regime in Russia and eliminating the threat posed by Russia to neighbouring countries. The idea that Western democracy and Ukraine are trying to protect the rights of “ordinary Russians” should be consolidated in the mass consciousness of the Russian citizens. Thus the configuration of “we – they” system will start changing in the Russian public opinion: “we” will increasingly deviate from the Russian authorities and bend to democratic regimes that help them. Information from the “Black Notebook” of Fight Corruption Fund (Navalny Group) should be used to expand sanction lists. The “Black Notebook” includes officials involved in political repressions in modern Russia. It is advisable to initiate new projects to create a database of participants of political repressions in Russia. For example, “Grey Notebook” for voluntary assistants of the authorities in the implementation of repressions: experts and professionals who falsify material findings in the interest of the investigation; false witnesses and other persons who are not officially at the governmental service.
There are two main scenarios for resolving the problem of Russian threats to the world:
1. Short-term: resignation of Putin between now and 2018 inclusive (the year of the next presidential election in the Russian Federation) and the complete dismantling of the regime he established, including the assuring of federalism in Russia. This scenario envisages violent centrifugal activation processes. Resignation of the president is possible as a result of inter-elite solution, but it is not guaranteed. Is it possible to avoid disintegration under this scenario? This would largely depend on the actions of the Russian central authorities and the international community. If this scenario is not implemented, then the long-term one is not impossible.
2. Long-term: the collapse of the Russian Federation due to a significant strengthening of centrifugal tendencies in the long run. This scenario is most probable due to the prolonged stagnation predicted by the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia. A variant of this scenario is overthrowing the current regime as a result of spontaneous mass protests caused by a rapid growth of relative deprivation, preserving the unity of the Russian Federation.
Translation from Russian
 Doctor of Political Sciences, professor, Head of Board Expert Group “Owl” http://egroupsova.blogspot.com.
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