The leadership of the Russian republic of Marii-El has announced that, in an effort to attract outside investment, it intends to declare the republic an offshore zone. There has been no serious investment in the republic’s economy in recent years, but in the future investors will enjoy two years’ exemption from all local taxes. Nationalist activity has been strong for some years in the republic, which lies in the middle reaches of the River Volga. The eponymous Mari people, who in 1989 made up 43 percent of the population of the republic (Russians comprised 47 percent), complain that ethnic Russians were encouraged in Soviet times to move into their territory and that the population transfer was used to prevent their self-determination. Separatism has not, however, been a significant force in the republic. This is partly to be explained by the republic’s lack of valuable raw materials and industrial base, which makes it dependent on the center for financial support. (Itar-Tass, June 4)
Crimea Gets New Prime Minister.