Staunton, May 13 – The idea that “Moscow is not Russia” has long been a commonplace among both residents of the capital and residents of the portions of Russia beyond the ring road, but the two are increasingly dissimilar, raising the possibility that a conflict between the capital and the rest of the country could emerge.
In an essay on the “Svobodnaya pressa” portal, commentator Andrey Ivanov says that “the two Russias” have never been as different from one another as they are today and interviews two experts about the meaning of this growing divide and the possibility that it will lead to conflict (svpressa.ru/society/article/67844/
Because of rising transportation costs, ever fewer people in the regions have even been to the capital and so make comparisons between it and themselves on the basis of the media. For “hatred to Muscovites” to become a political force, he says, people in the regions would have to feel that the state could not punish them and that they are united. Neither of which is true today.
He argues that the way to overcome this divide is to change the tax system so that more money will be available to the regions and municipalities who can then meet their responsibilities and ensure that there is more social mobility. But at present, he implies, there seems little chance of that.