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Article

Последствия укрупнения сельских поселений: взгляд снизу

The new principles of the territorial structure of local self-government became effective in Russia on 1 January 2006. Since then, the number of municipalities with the status of a rural settlement has steadily declined, and by January 1, 2014 had dropped by more than 1,800, or almost 10%. This was primarily the result of large-scale campaigns on consolidating rural municipalities which took place in some regions. Currently, there are quite a few cases when only two or three rural settlements remain in a whole district (a constituent entity of the Russian Federation generally consists of 20 to 30 districts). Each rural settlement may include several dozens or even hundreds of villages and cover an area exceeding a thousand square kilometers. Not only did some of the abolished municipalities lose their own independent local self-government bodies, they no longer have any authorities on their territory. The article addresses the implications of such territorial and administrative changes with emphasis on the perception of such processes by the rural inhabitants. Forty-four non-formalized, semi-structured, in-depth interviews with 55 villagers and representatives of the local self-government bodies of the rural settlements served as empirical evidence. The author took the interviews during research expeditions across six regions of European Russia in 2009–2013. The article depicts and analyzes the reasons, procedure, and implications of the enlargement of rural settlements, as well as the principal complaints of the residents of the affected villages. According to them, the main problem is the focus of the new authorities exclusively on the administrative center. The author provides specific recommendations as to the transformation approach and procedure. The article is intended for the authorities of municipal districts and settlements, as well as regional and federal legislators.