Post-Soviet Russia between Federalism and Unitarism: Normative Models and Realities of Transforming SocietyErokhina Elena
The article deals with the problem of correlation between the theory and practice of Russian federalism. The author shows the relationship between sovereignization and the formation of a new Russian statehood at the beginning of the 1990s. The author also highlights the cyclicality of fluctuations from decentralization to over-centralization in relations between the center and the region. Federalism is seen as an institution, as a normative model, and as a practice. The paper draws particular attention to the historical context of the formation of the Russian statehood: “the parade of sovereignties”, the collapse of the USSR, the adoption of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the Federative Treaty on the authority demarcation with the Republic of Tatarstan. The author suggests that the inertia of decentralization after the collapse of the USSR not overcome by the Russian Federation in the 1990s prompted the federal center to borrow elements of unitarism. In the 2000s negotiability inability of elites in all authority levels was forcibly compensating by construction of “power vertical”. However, already by the mid-2000s the management centralization turns into a self-sufficient trend. The comprehension of the phenomenon of Russian federalism, the compliances of institutional practices with constitutional principles, the search for its optimal model and other issues served as a starting point for an interdisciplinary discussion. To date, several directions have been formed, each of which has its own argumentation in the dispute between supporters and opponents of federalism, who believe, that the unitary model of Russia's structure to be more optimal. It has been suggested that the negative experience of decentralization of the 1990s is associated in academic and everyday discourse with federalization. Such a setup prevents the objective understanding of this phenomenon as a factor that has played a positive role in the formation of the new post-Soviet statehood of Russia. The thesis is substantiated by the fact that with the entry of the Crimea into Russia, the federalist discourse acquired a new breath. To prove this argument, the author refers to cases illustrating the desire of individual subjects to use the institutions of federalism to build parity relations with the center to solve issues that are under the joint jurisdiction of Moscow and the regions. The author comes to the conclusion about maturing of prerequisites for a new cycle in the development of federal relations. The lack of budgetary funds, which the majority of subjects is experiencing now, makes them exercise their authorities, pushes regions to the need to expand the scope of their rights. The strategies of interaction between the federal center and the subjects of the Russian Federation are proposed to be described in the metaphors of bargaining and partnership.