«Public Administration Issues» Journal,

Post. address:
National Research University
Higher School of Economics
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Major Indexing

Research and educational journal
Published quarterly since 2007
ISSN 1999-5431
E-ISSN 2409-5095

Ildar Zulkarnay1
  • 1 Dr. in Economics, Head of the Laboratory for the Study of Social and Economic Problems of the Regions, Bashkir State University, 32, Validy Str., 450076, Ufa, Russian Federation.

Why Russia Has Again Been Sliding from Federalism to Unitarianism

2018. No. 5. P. 116–132 [issue contents]
Throughout the history of Russia, short periods of public administration decentralization have been replaced by long periods of centralization. In particular, and mainly with negative connotations, the tendency towards centralization in Russia – the building up of a predominantly unitary state and the departure from the principles of federalism, even in its asymmetric form – has been discussed in the last few years.
The article analyzes the reasons for the current tendency for the centralization of public administration in Russia. The main reasons, we believe, are: the command-administrative style of governance that was formed in Soviet times, supported both by the mentality of the political elite and the bureaucracy, and by the traditional paternalistic attitude of the population towards power; the lack of understanding by the center as to how to interact with the ethnic republics, aggravated by the fear of the disintegration of the country; and the existence of a centralized Budget and Tax Codes. As an illustrative example of the history and content of reasons for the centralization of governance, the interaction between the Federal Center and the Republic of Bashkortostan is considered, and the article focuses on analysis of the two main reasons for centralization.
It is alleged that in Russia the “pendulum” will not change direction from centralization to decentralization any time soon. However, in order to mitigate the negative consequences of excessive centralization and prevent spontaneous events, some measures are proposed to reduce excessive centralization and develop federalism. In particular, it is necessary to change the system of professional and additional professional education of civil servants, as well as to reduce the transaction costs of governance by redistributing a number of public administration functions between the Center and the Regions, and introducing some elements of the single-channel budgeting system used in China in 1980–1993.

Zulkarnay, I. (2018). Why Russia Has Again Been Sliding from Federalism to Unitarianism. Public Administration Issues, Special Issue (electronic edition), pp. 116–132 (in English); DOI: 10.17323/1999-5431-2018-0-5-116-132.
ISSN 1999-5431
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