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Russia's New Federalism


Russias new-style federalism is embodied in the Federative Treaty of 1992 and the Constitution of 1993. It is a federalism of a mixed type: the Russian Federation incorporates not only ethnic-national subdivisions, inherited from the Soviet past, but also purely (non-ethnic) administrative territorial units, such as regions and even certain cities (Moscow and St. Petersburg). In other words, Russian federalism provides both a framework for managing inter-ethnic relations and a form of the countrys territorial organization. As of 2004, Russia comprises 89 constituent territorial units, which in Russian constitutional language are called the subjects of the federation. 


In the years immediately following the Soviet collapse, Russia found it particularly difficult to reestablish the primacy of its own central authority. Conflicts between the regional governments and the Russian federal authorities over the spheres of rights and powers were substantial. They even led some analysts to debate the question of whether Russia itself was in danger of splitting apart.

However, the demographic differences between the former USSR and the present-day Russia make the prospect of Russia sharing the fate of the USSR unlikely. The Soviet population was more ethnically fragmented than that of the Russian republic. Whereas only half of the Soviet population was ethnically Russian, Russias population is 81 percent Russian with ethnic minorities forming a very small proportion of the total.

Besides, the national republics of the Soviet Union were all located on the perimeter of the union, and thus bordered other countries. The national territories of Russia are mainly internal to the Russian republic, and thus have less direct interaction with the outside world.

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