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The Merger of Federal Subjects of the Russian Federation During Putin's Presidency and After

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image of Review of Central and East European Law
For more content, see Review of Socialist Law.

Among the institutional changes brought about or instigated during Vladimir Putin's two terms in office as President of the Russian Federation (RF), the reduction of the number of federal subjects of the RF—i.e., the number of territorial–administrative 'entities' that together constitute the Russian Federation—has perhaps attracted the least attention. However, this policy of reducing the number of subjects by bringing about what is effectively a merger of two or three subjects, thereby creating new federal subjects, is worthy of attention for a number of reasons. This policy is one of the ways in which the Federation's center (re)asserts its dominant position vis-à-vis the 'constitutive parts' of the Federation, which are, indeed, treated as 'subjects' within a more unitary state format. This policy runs counter to what appears to be a trend in many other countries where 'native peoples' (or 'indigenous peoples') are accorded various forms of self rule, often within their 'home territories' ('self-government rights').

This article will address the procedures being followed to bring about the reduction of the number of subjects, as well as the reasons for merging smaller subjects, in terms of the number of inhabitants, with larger ones. The possible future of the policy of subject merger will be discussed in the final part of the article. It will be argued that the reduction of the number of subjects of the Russian Federation to merely a few dozen will entail the end of Russia as a federation; by doing so, Russia will reconstitute itself as a unitary state.


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