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Article

Russia’s Regions as Winners and Losers: Political Reasons and Outcomes in the Distribution of Federal Transfers

European Politics and Society. 2017. Vol. 18. No. 4. P. 529-551.

Russia is one of the most diverse nations in terms of regional inequality. This article investigates which political factors influence on the distributive politics of the federal government and how this contributes to the goal of equalizing disproportions. The authors have analyzed annual regional breakdown of federal transfers for ten last consecutive years. Part of these transfers was defined as “politically sensitive” (subsidies, “other grants”) being different from transfers based on clear economic indicators (equalizing grants) or tied to the transfer of certain powers to the regions (subventions). The authors used such variables as regional economic wealth (precursor of bargaining power), governors’ political influence (measured by expert ratings), ethnic composition (buying loyalty of ethnically non-Russian regions), geopolitical vulnerability (areas claimed / influenced from abroad), and electoral campaigns (“pork barrel” and “loyalty reward” politics). Most of these factors proved to be important.