Orenburg Oblast in the Urals has become the first region of the Russian Federation to sign a comprehensive treaty with the federal center, and Russian prime minister Victor Chernomyrdin says the center is ready to devolve real powers to the regions. (9) He said this would include full power to control their own budgets and to participate actively in privatization at regional level.
The Orenburg treaty, which has been under negotiation for over a year, demarcates powers between the oblast and the federal center. It was signed in Moscow by Chernomyrdin (who himself claims descent from a family of Orenburg Cossacks) and the governor of the region, Vladimir Yelagin. Until now, only Russia’s ethnically based republics had signed such treaties, fourteen republics having done so far. Other regions are expected to finalize such agreements soon: Sverdlovsk oblast has already signed some of the subsidiary agreements forming the basis of the main treaty. Next in line are Kaliningrad oblast (the Russian enclave sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania, which is also negotiating with the center for the status of a free economic zone), Murmansk oblast in Russia’s extreme northwestern corner, and Krasnodar krai in the south.
Lukoil Spreading Out.