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Friday, October 28, 2016

Crimea is finally recognized as part of the South of Russia

The inclusion of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol in the southern Federal district means that the transition period for the integration of the Peninsula in Russia has been completed. And the preservation of the head of the southern Federal district of the former Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov makes it one of the most influential figures in regional politics, despite the phenomenal nonpublic.

The abolition of the Crimean Federal district and the inclusion of Crimea in structure of the southern Federal district was, in essence, a matter of time. First started talking about this at an informal level a year ago, immediately after the abolition of the Ministry for Crimean Affairs of the Russian Federation, which only lasted for 14.5 months. The former head of this Department Oleg Saveliev was promoted to the post of Deputy head of Russian government office, and the functions of the abolished Mindcrime went to the Ministry of economic development.

The typical South region

“He constantly had to deal with the Amateur elites of the national republics, chronic problems in housing and other well-known features of the Caucasus life”

It is important to understand that life on the Peninsula after its accession to Russia is critically dependent on the nearest “mainland”. All transport links to the rest of the Crimea with Russia, with the exception of aircraft carried out in the Krasnodar territory, and this situation will continue after the commissioning of the bridge across the Kerch Strait. The supply of Crimea with electricity after blackouts, arranged by Ukraine in the end of last year, is also from the power system of the South, in which there are excess amount of generation (the Rostov nuclear power plant, Novocherkassk GRES).

From the point of view of the structure of the economy of Crimea, as is typical of the southern region with a predominance of agriculture, tourism and other service industries and relatively undeveloped industry. Like other southern regions of Russia, Crimea is distinguished by complex ethnic composition of the population and associated with this circumstance complicated land relations.

With the inclusion of Crimea in structure of the southern Federal district the Federal district automatically becomes a territory of the largest concentration of Russian resorts and port infrastructure in Crimea, there are five seaports), as well as domestic wine. At the same time, the inclusion of Crimea in structure of the SFD will strengthen the economic disparities within the Federal district. Because of the disastrous heritage of 23 years in the Ukraine – the weak level of infrastructure, Crimea is far behind the level of development reached by the key regions of the southern Federal district – Krasnodar Krai and Rostov oblast. In the latter study, the socio-economic situation of regions, RIA “rating” at the end of 2015, the Republic of Crimea was on the 53rd place, which is comparable with the Astrakhan oblast (58th position), and Sevastopol and is 76 m, the neighborhood with the least developed regions of the southern Federal district – the republics of Adygea and Kalmykia. For comparison, Krasnodar region in the ranking is 16th place, Rostov oblast – 24-m, lags behind them in the Volgograd region (34th place).

The envoy-survivor

The Federal curator of the Crimea and Sevastopol now is retaining his post, the presidential envoy in the southern Federal district 63-year-old Vladimir Ustinov, in the last decade held the post of attorney General and Minister of justice of the Russian Federation. Of all the existing presidential envoys in the Federal districts Ustinov is in this status for the longest period since may 2008. For SFD this is an absolute record, since for the previous eight years in office gave way to four people (Viktor Kazantsev, Vladimir Yakovlev, Dmitry Kozak and Grigory Rapota).

In addition, the post of Ambassador Ustinov “outlasted” the southern “powerhouses” as the Governor of Rostov region Vladimir Chub, the Governor of Krasnodar region Alexander Tkachev and the head of Kalmykia Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. For eight years, with Ustinov in most regions of the southern Federal district is under new leadership, were held the Olympic games in Sochi, turned the work on preparation for the world Cup from the shelf of the Caspian sea in the Astrakhan region was the first Russian produced oil, etc.

In short, Ustinov became a kind of a southern policy constant, though originally its movement in Rostov-on-don was perceived as a kind of honourable exile, given the number of previous episodes of his biography. The peak of a Prosecutor’s career, Ustinov became the first case of Yukos, after which in order to avoid a sharp strengthening of the Prosecutor General, he was transferred to the Ministry of justice, and after a couple of years – the presidential envoy to the South (at that time part of the southern Federal district was composed of 13 subjects, including the current regions of the North Caucasus Federal district).

In fact, the position South of the presidential envoy Vladimir Ustinov was returning home, as the transition to work in the state office of public Prosecutor it is almost two decades worked in the Krasnodar territory, rising for the first Deputy regional Prosecutor. Good knowledge of the region allowed Ustinov to stay in the South for a long time, but for all the years the envoy, he remained as closed figure – Ustinov almost never gives interviews and makes public appearances only for major reasons such as the inauguration of new governors.

However around Vladimir Ustinov has long formed a very powerful team, the most notable representative of which after the Ambassador is the head of the office of the Prosecutor General in the southern Federal district, Deputy Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation Sergey Vorobev. After the annexation of Crimea to Russia was actually in his area of responsibility as a separate Department of the Prosecutor General on the Crimean Federal district has been established. Skate of Sergei Vorobyov are violations of the legislation in the sphere of housing – this was the subject of many speeches of the Deputy attorney General and special receptions of citizens.

Maybe not the end

The inclusion of Crimea in structure of the southern Federal district under the leadership Ustinov clearly demonstrates a serious strengthening of the position of this figure, given that increased attention to Crimea and the Federal city, and the Russian society as a whole will persist for a very long time. And it is possible that the new configuration of the southern Federal district is an intermediate option, because some time ago in circles close to the regime discussed other scenarios for the southern regions of the country.

For example, in February, unofficial sources reported that the center of the SFD can be transferred from Rostov-on-don to Krasnodar. As the main considerations in favour of this solution expressed the fact that the Kuban capital has been ahead of don as the pace of socio-economic development. In addition, the Krasnodar moved to the rank of megacities – in the beginning of this year, according to statistics, there were 950 thousand inhabitants, and according to the mayor of the city Vladimir Evlanov 1.25 million people.

From the point of view of logistics Krasnodar is located more favorably in relation to the Crimea, the Rostov-on-don. The distance from Simferopol to Krasnodar is about 400 kilometers, and after completion of construction of Kerch bridge to overcome it on the car for about six hours. The way to Rostov-on-don is much longer – about 650 kilometers along the short road through Slavyansk-on-Kuban region and over 700 miles on Federal highways. While the bridge is being constructed, at the meeting in the Embassy or regional offices of Federal agencies Crimean officials, of course, will be to fly – now it is the easiest way to get to the Crimea that is from Rostov, Krasnodar.

Another discussed option is the reorganization of the southern Federal district had anticipated reverse merger of SFD and NCFD, separated in early 2010. In the main task selection of the North Caucasus (Stavropol Krai plus six national republics) into a separate Federal district was declared accelerating the pace of socio-economic development of the region. However, we can say that after six years, achieved outstanding success. On a number of macroeconomic indicators, the North Caucasus remains a serious gap from the national average, and the initial calculation on mega-projects investment type tourism cluster is clearly not justified.

About the imminent resignation of presidential envoy to the NCFD Sergey Melikov, held simultaneously with the inclusion of Crimea in structure of the SFD and a number of other personnel changes, in expert circles began to talk immediately after in early April, President Vladimir Putin announced the creation of Regardie. In the new post of Deputy Director, Lieutenant General of internal troops of the princes obviously will feel more comfortable than in the chair of the presidential envoy in the NCFD, where he constantly had to deal with the ongoing initiative of the elites of the national republics, the chronically unsolvable problems in housing and other well-known features of Caucasian life. Now watch for the Caucasus will bear the former presidential envoy in Crimea Oleg Belavenets, having no experience in this region, so that the question of the future of the North Caucasus Federal district can still be considered open.

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