“AUTONOMY” A MIRAGE?
Yet another conciliatory gesture from Moscow was the recent promise made by Vladislav Surokov, President Putin’s deputy chief of staff, that Chechnya would have “the broadest autonomy” once it adopts the constitution proposed in this month’s referendum. “In the future a treaty between the federal center and the Chechen Republic might entail the most flexible schemes of existence for the Chechen Republic within the body of the Russian Federation,” Surokov said. “It is possible to find acceptable forms even for those who until now have not wished to see themselves within Russia. The Chechen people will begin to govern for themselves and to receive the broadest powers within Russia.” Aslambek Aslakhanov, Chechnya’s deputy to the lower house of the federal parliament, also said that Chechnya would be given maximum autonomy: “Even if the federation treaties with the other republics are annulled, the one with Chechnya will remain in force.”
Nevertheless, the draft constitutional text itself says nothing about such autonomy. Moreover, a March 3 analysis by Olga Redichkina, Andrei Reut and Anastasia Matveyeva, posted on the website Gzt.ru, notes that within three years a new system for allocating powers between Moscow and the provincial governments is to take effect, with the intent of “definitively burying the idea of federation treaties” between Moscow and the separate provincial governments. A proposal by Deputy Dmitry Kozak, which has already received preliminary approval from the Duma, would annul all existing federation treaties with their special measures on taxing authority and the like. The journalists predict that “Chechen autonomy will hardly be included in this system–it will be impossible to make an exception for just one subject of the Federation.”