Publication: Monitor Volume: 8 Issue: 99

On May 13, Krasnoyarsk Krai’s legislative assembly was unable to decide whether to hold a referendum on merging the krai with the Taimyr and Evenk Autonomous Districts (Russian agencies, May 13). The legislature’s indecision makes it less likely that the merger of the three entities into one Federation subject will ever take place.

The idea of reducing the number of Russian Federation subjects has been discussed widely, and there has been much speculation about where and how this will first take place. Russian law currently permits the existence of autonomous districts that are located within the territory of larger Federation subjects but are themselves independent and equal Federation subjects. Therefore the scenario for reducing the number of regions most often discussed involves the merger of such autonomous districts with the oblasts and krai in which they are located.

Krasnoyarsk’s late governor, Aleksandr Lebed, backed the idea of merging Krasnoyarsk Krai with the Taimyr and Evenk Autonomous Districts (see the Monitor, April 2). However, he was unable to reach an agreement with the Taimyr and Evenk heads on conditions for such a merger, which led to the idea of holding a referendum. Yet it became clear during debate in the Krasnoyarsk legislative assembly that there was also no consensus on the conditions for such a referendum. The krai’s legislators ultimately decided that it was in any case outside their competence to call such a referendum. The legislature declared it would first be necessary to set up a consultative organ comprised of representatives from the krai’s legislative assembly and administration, along with the Taimyr and Evenk leaders, which would present its findings to the Russian president. Only afterwards could a decision be made to hold a referendum (, May 13; RIA Ekspress, May 14).

It now looks likely that there will be no referendum. Indeed, even Aleksandr Uss, speaker of the Krasnoyarsk Krai legislative assembly and one of the main supporters of unifying the krai with the two autonomous districts, recently asserted that such a referendum would be “no more than a public opinion poll” and would not genuinely represent the will of the people (, May 13).