|МАТЕРИАЛЫ ДЛЯ ЧТЕНИЯ
ON THE WAY TO THE GLOBAL WORLD:
ADMINISTRATIVE AND NETWORKING STRATEGIES OF THE RUSSIA’S REGIONS
Oleg Alexandrov, Andrey Makarychev
The decade of 1990s has witnessed the rise and fall of Russia’s regions as both domestic and international actors. This peculiar trajectory deserves special attention.
By the end of 1990 it became clear that due to emergence of new political, economic and public actors Russian political space became much more complex than ever before. New patterns of institutional and non-institutional interaction were coming into being, with new corporate actorship to emerge on the basis of new labor ethics. These new trends were very much consonant with the world-wide crisis of hierarchical models of organizations and mushrooming of networking managerial models, which in Russia have however their own specificity.
Regions’ survival in increasingly complex and demanding environment consisting of a variety of actors1 depends on how they are to be positioned in the frameworks of both horizontal cooperation and vertical subordination. Traditionally, the regions in Russia were perceived as administrative units looking for their room in the “administrative staircase” of political power. Vertically, the regions are parts of what could be called “administrative market” composed of political institutions each having its niche in newly reconstructed “vertical of power”. Yet this is just one part of the story, since the regions increasingly find themselves interacting with other structures and institutions that in a strict sense are not a part of “administrative market” and are not attached to specific territory to the extent the regions are. Horizontally, the regions have to discover the potential of coalition building with other “sovereignty-free actors” (James Rosenau’s expression). What became important is social interaction with other members of regional milieu, interchange of resources and information, coordination of political and social practices, combination of different experiences2.
In our paper we are treat the regions as those units that belong to both administrative (vertical) and networking (horizontal) areas of decision making. This paper wishes to contribute to understanding the extent to which the coalitions of the regions and other new actors are instrumental in Russia’s adjustment to the imperatives of new global environment. We would like to explore whether the interactions of the regions and other new actors could facilitate Russia’s integration to the world community and serve as communicators with the global milieu. One of the main aims of this paper is to identify the spheres of social interaction between the regions and other new actors, and to appraise their results in terms of Russia’s integration to the global world.
1. REGIONS AND THEIR CHALLENGERS
This chapter seeks to analyze the vitality of the present form of Russian regionalism and assess the chances of Capital and Information as its strongest challengers. “Capital actors” are exemplified by financial-industrial groups which are alliances of industrial enterprises, banking and insurance institutions, investment corporations, and commercial funds3. “Information actors” are those professionally related to producing and distributing the knowledge-based information products (including the media, Internet, telecommunication agencies, public policy research institutions, etc.). Neither of these two large groups of new actors is intrinsically coherent, and the divergences within each of them are very significant. Yet for analytical purposes we shall deal with them as groups of actors having common background and interests vis-à-vis other actors.
1.1. The Rise and Fall of the Regions
It is rather hard to comprehensively characterize the roles of regional elites as political actors. There are contrasting attitudes to the regional governments both in Russia and abroad. Thus, Sergey Medvedev thinks that the regional governments are pragmatic and rational actors. They can “be seen as a factor of stability and continuity” and “are to a large extent preventing the authoritarian government in Russia”4. To confirm this view one may recall for example that this were the regions (like Chuvashia, city of Moscow and others) that the international organizations have addressed for cooperation projects after the August 1998 meltdown5.
On the other hand, Gleb Pavlovsky, the head of the Moscow-based Foundation for Effective Politics, characterized regional leaders as “mediocre managers which found themselves at their own in the revolutionary redistribution of property”. In the words of Pavlovsky who is one of top political advisors to President Vladimir Putin, the mentality of the regional leaders is a mix of prejudices inherited from the times of USSR and perestroika, often embedded in ethnocratic and even racist colors6. Philip Hanson noted that “regional government activity tends ... towards autarky”7. Some of the regional governments are very conservative and show no initiative in globalization issues. Thus, it was the central government that forced the Kuban’s legislature to pass the law giving the residence rights to the CIS citizens who were married to the locals for more than five years. Yet the regional anti-migration lobby is eager to convince the federal center to grant to Krasnodar Krai the special status of border region, which might end up in banning the residence permits for foreigners from “Near Abroad”8. By the same token, Moscow city authorities impose administrative barriers on the way of capital and migrants.
Thus, it is hard to decide unequivocally whether the regions are the sources or the impediments for innovations. Probably they were both – depending on the nature of leadership in each specific region and the period we are referring to.
In the beginning of 1990s there were much hopes that the regions would turn into the locomotives of the reforms Russia badly needed. Regions were the first to undermine the political monopoly of the center. They gradually increased their sphere of influence both internally and externally9. During 1990s decentralization was a dominant tendency. Regionalism became the top issue of the Russian political life, for it questioned the traditional forms of state ruling. The power of the federal center was moving to regions, involving new people in the process of governance and making forms of policy making more complex. Russian political scientist Arbakhan Magomedov indicates two major factors that gave start to regionalism in the beginning of 1990: crisis of identity, which occurred against the background of breakdown of the Soviet Union, and refusal of regional elites to follow the line of the Gaidar reform.10
In mid-1990s the federal center decided on signing of power-sharing agreements as a means to concretize the rights and status of each particular region in Russian economic and political space. Since 1996 regions received the right to elect governors in the same way the leaders of ethnic republics did this since 1991. Actually, the period from 1991 till 1998 was the golden age of Russian regionalism.
Yet the truth is that much of initial expectations have faded by the end of 1990, with increasing incompetence and inefficiency of the regional elites, their failures to secure the regional economic growth and provide decent living standards. Regions’ defaults on their international financial obligations and the defeat of the Primakov - Luzhkov regional coalition in 1999 parliamentary election were the most notorious signs of the weakness of the regional elites. As Piotr Shchedrovitsky puts it, the regional leaders failed to cope with mass political processes under such rather unfavorable and imperfect conditions as scarce information, political uncertainties, growing number of extreme situations. A large part of them have proved their disinterest in networking forms of social and political actions, human capital development (what is being called “antropostructures”11), and expert analysis. The broadening spheres of social and economic life were staying behind their reach – those basically related to financial flows and intellectual capital. The regional elites have also experienced the value crisis12. Instead of formulating strategic goals and investing in long-term projects, the regional elites were by and large obsessed by misleading slogans of “stabilization”, “strengthening national spirit”, etc.13 Governors were trying to use every pretext to protect their political and economic domains from any competition. Thus, Khabarovsk Krai governor Viktor Ishaev has lobbied in favour of canceling the municipal elections in those subjects of federation adjacent to the border under the guise of “security context”14, while Igor Farkhutdinov, the governor of Sakhalin, has spoken out against establishing the free economic zone in the Kuril islands explaining his position quite overtly – “who in that case will be the governor?”15. As a result, the bulk of regional regimes have evolved to autocracy, which discredited the very idea of regionalism.
The regional elites have failed to perform the function of “spatial transfer of innovation”16. Taking into account growing debilitation of regional elites and their vanishing innovative potential, the question has to be asked: does it manifest the eventual “death” of the regions as strong political actors? Or the regions have to change their roles? And who are the new non-central actors, more adequate to the challenges of modernization?
It is yet too early to give precise and detailed answers to these questions, but it might be certainly assumed that the new engines of Russian modernization have to be those actors dealing with Capital and Information, two basic substances to predetermine further development of Russian regions.