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Asymmetric Federalism in Russia: Cure or Poison?

In the early years of its existence, the Russian Federation adopted a system of differential treatment of its regions in order to cope with the great degree of diversity present in them. This paper examines the Russian Federation’s asymmetric federalism by evaluating the system’s role, significance and effects on the Federation’s development. The study incorporates a detailed description of the asymmetric federalism over time along with the benefits and costs incurred by its implementation. It also stresses the importance of the system within the process of nation-building in the Federation over the last decade. The paper concludes that asymmetric federalism helped significantly to glue the country together in the early years when national preservation and unity were the main issues in the Federation. However, as the separatist threats significantly decreased and the political friction and economic difficulties of the asymmetric treatment of regions became more pronounced and obvious, most of the country rightly demanded a simpler, more transparent and fair approach to intergovernmental fiscal relations. Asymmetric federalism, therefore, contributed to the Federation’s 1998 debt crisis and had eroded national solidarity and a national purpose. Thus, the early cure had become poison.

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Paper provided by International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University in its series International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU with number paper0304.

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Length: 59 pages
Date of creation: 01 Dec 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ays:ispwps:paper0304
Contact details of provider: Phone: 404-413-0235
Fax: 404-413-0244
Web page: http://aysps.gsu.edu/isp/index.html

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  1. Broadman, Harry G. & Recanatini, Francesca, 2001. "Where has all the foreign investment gone in Russia?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2640, The World Bank.
  2. Olivier Blanchard & Andrei Shleifer, 2001. "Federalism With and Without Political Centralization: China Versus Russia," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 48(4), pages 8.
  3. Roy Bahl, 1999. "Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations in Leningrad Region," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper9902, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  4. de Melo, Martha & Ofer, Gur, 1999. "The Russian city in transition - the first six years in ten Volga capitals," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2165, The World Bank.
  5. Vladimir Popov, 2004. "Fiscal Federalism in Russia: Rules versus Electoral Politics," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 46(4), pages 515-541, December.
  6. Daniel Berkowitz & David DeJong, 1998. "Russia's Internal Border," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 189, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  7. Richard M. Bird & Francois Vaillancourt, 2001. "Reconciling Diversity with Equality: The Role of Intergovernmental Fiscal Arrangements in Maintaining an Effective State in Canada," International Tax Program Papers 0406, International Tax Program, Institute for International Business, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, revised Apr 2004.
  8. Lavrov, Aleksei & Litwack, John & Sutherland, Douglas, 2001. "Fiscal federalist relations in Russia: a case for subnational autonomy," MPRA Paper 26537, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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