Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Regional Factions Looking Here For Leadership

With new elections or a referendum the next likely step in the power struggle between President Boris Yeltsin and the legislature, officials in both branches of government warned Friday that the crisis could fan out from Moscow to the hundreds of regions and republics of the Russian Federation.


To win either form of vote, Yeltsin would have to first convince as many regional administrations as possible to go along with the vote, by proving that their interests would be best served by supporting him.


In the run-up to the Congress both Yeltsin and Khasbulatov have intensified their campaigns for support from regional leaders - Khasbulatov at a meeting of local parliamentary leaders in Novosibirsk, and Yeltsin through regular meetings in Moscow with republican presidents.


Without the support of local leaders, legislators believe that Yeltsin would face the greater risk in a referendum or election, because he is strongly opposed by an influential and deeply entrenched local nomenclature -former Communist Party officials who remain in power.


"Politicians should not have such romantic illusions", Vladimir Lysenko, a liberal legislator and expert on nationalities questions, said of Yeltsin's chances should he call a referendum. "I don't think he can win in the regions".


Legislators and political analysts said that while the struggle heats up in Moscow over what form the country's post-Communist balance of powers will take, relations with and control over Russia's 83 regions and 19 republics are rapidly worsening.


"The most frightening thing is that everything that is happening here, the fight for power at the top, is gradually unfurling into the regions", Leonid Gurevich, a liberal legislator, said Friday.


In response to this threat, local leaders have been drawn into the battle at the top, as both presidential and parliamentary teams realize their importance.


Leaders of local executive and legislative branches called for the president and parliament to resolve their differences Friday.


Struggles between the two branches of power mirroring the fight between Yeltsin and his main rival, Ruslan Khasbulatov, have already erupted in pockets of the country, such as Chelyabinsk in the Urals. They threaten to spread as the country's economic decline continues.


The regions and republics have also grown increasingly independent of Moscow, something which has gone on almost unnoticed with the focus on the power struggle in the capital. At least one republic, Moslem Tatarstan, has declared its sovereignty and is negotiating relations with Moscow.


"The regions are grabbing as much power as they can", said Andranik Migranyan, a political analyst and member of the president's council of consultants. "As they declare their laws are higher than the federal laws, the central problem is how to consolidate power at the center".


The regions and republics are demanding that Moscow fulfill its obligation to the Federation Treaty, a declaration which would put land, resources, and other rights directly into the hands of local leaders. Regional leaders have protested loudly in recent months that both government and parliament have stalled on enacting the treaty, which was signed in March 1992.


"As it is now, our rights are being violated", said Mikhail Nikolayev, president of the Siberian republic of Sakha.


Under the resolution passed by the Congress on Friday, both branches of government would be asked to make considerable concessions to Russia's regions and republics. The resolution also calls for the government and parliament to work together to enact the Federation Treaty.