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4 E. Eur. Const. Rev. 52 (1995)
Federal Bargaining in Russia

handle is hein.journals/eeurcr4 and id is 320 raw text is: EAST EUROPEAN CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW

Why have Russia's republics received better treatent than its oblasts and krals?

Federal Bargaining in Russia
Steven L. Solnick
What sort of state is Russia becoming: a loose con-
federation of regional units, a true federation, or a
unitary state? Or, are asymmetries between the 57
predominantly Russian oblasts and krais and the 21
ethnic homeland republics producing a state in
which 23 million Russian subjects will live in a
federation and another 124 will live in a unitary
state (Ilya Glezer, Moscow News no. 7, 1992).
The brief answer, of course, is that it is too soon
to tell. But it is not too soon to examine two key
outcomes of the first four years of post-Soviet con-
stitutional development: the persistence of asym-
metries between oblasts/krais and republics and
the recent reliance on bilateral treaties between
Moscow and individual regions to resolve jurisdic-
tional disputes. These phenomena can be best
understood not as a consequence of evolving con-
stitutional norms or of latent ethnic conflict, but
rather as the product of ongoing political bargain-
ing between federal and regional authorities.
Some definitional issues
A federal state-according to the definition devel-
oped by William Riker-consists of two levels of
government ruling the same land and people, each
having at least one area of action in which it has
guaranteed autonomy. In contemporary Russia,
these political and administrative aspects of feder-
alism have been at the heart of the struggle over
state structure since the collapse of Communism.
In return for their acceptance of the 1992 federa-
tion treaties, for instance, several republics won
special deals. Bashkortostan demanded a special
appendix granting it additional control over its for-
eign trade, while Sakha gained additional property
rights over natural resources. Since 1992, other
republics and regions have pressed for the right to
control appointments or election of subnational

officials (especially appointments to the judiciary,
procuracy, media, and, more recently, election of
regional governors), to limit inter-regional trade,
unilaterally to adjust tax rates, establish territorial
citizenship, to nullify federal legislation, and
even to control the stationing of conscripts drafted
from their territory.
Measuring federalism poses a difficult method-
ological challenge. Some researchers have adopted a
constitutional-legal approach, emphasizing the pow-
ers granted to the center or regions in various consti-
tutional documents, as well as the development of an
independent judiciary and constitutional court.
While these approaches illuminate important mech-
anisms in the overall struggle over federalism, they
are an imprecise guide to the actual delineation of
power between national and subnational levels.
Article 72 of the Russian Constitution, for
instance, enumerates a list of shared responsibilities
that-combined with the exclusively federal powers
listed in Art. 71-leaves hardly any residual func-
tions in the clear and exclusive purview of subna-
tional governments. A federal law to clarify which
shared powers reside at the regional level has consis-
tently failed to clear the State Duma. Some regions
have reacted to this impasse by claiming certain
exclusive rights in their own republican constitu-
tions or oblast charters, but it is far from clear which
have acted on these claims. Many have been using
the passage of their own constitutional documents
chiefly as a step toward forcing Moscow to enter
into ad hoc negotiations. These negotiations have
already produced seven extraconstitutional bilateral
treaties- delimiting spheres of power, beginning
with Tatarstan in February 1994 (see Table I).
The Constitution of Tuva, for instance, distinctly
contradicts the Russian Constitution on 12 points,
according to Vladimir Suge-Maadyr, Tuva's

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