Russian Federation Explained
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Russian Federation Explained

Russia is the largest country in the world. To help run its vast lands, it is split into 46 Oblasts, 22 Republics, 9 Krais, 4 autonomous Okrugs, 3 federal cities, and an autonomous oblast, all equal subjects of russian federation, but some are more equal than others. Russia, like the United States, is a federation, meaning the subdivisions get their power directly from the country’s constitution. This contrast a unitary state, like the United Kingdom, where all sub-national powers come from the central government, and in theory can be revoked without amending their constitution. Unlike the United States where every state has the same internal powers, Russia is an asymmetrical Federation. All the federal subjects are considered equal by the federal government and when dealing with each other, but some of them notably the Republics, have more internal powers than others. The Republics of Russia get to have their own official languages along with Russian, and have their own constitutions. The republics are meant to be the homeland of the indigenous peoples of the land which came under Russian control as a result of settlement and conquest, in a process similar to the American westward expansion. Crimea is in dispute with Ukraine, but according to Russia is one of the Republics, and the port city of Sevastopol is one of three cities of federal importance. Russia’s largest warm water Naval Base is located in Sevastopol, which was previously being leased from Ukraine before Russia invaded. The other two cities of federal importance are Moscow, the capital and largest city, and St. Petersburg, the second largest city and an important port on the Baltic. Besides being composed of only a single city and its surroundings, the federal cities have powers identical to the 46 Oblasts, which contain the majority of the population. Oblast is a common word for subdivisions in Slavic countries. It can be translated as province or region. Krais can be translated as territories, which reflect that Krais are located in areas that were historic frontiers of Russia, but in the modern state Krais are identical to oblasts, but in Soviet times, a Krai was allowed to contain autonomous oblasts, and many of them did. However after the Soviet Disunion, the autonomous oblasts were made direct federal subjects, and most were upgraded to Republics. One still remains and it’s the Jewish Autonomous Oblast. Strangely, only about a thousand Jews live there, making up one percent of population. This bizarre situation is result of a Soviet policy that required a group to have a territory to be considered a nation. The solution to this problem was to reap 2 bushels of wheat with one sickle, and establish a Jewish homeland in the underpopulated Soviet Far East. Unlike other autonomous oblasts, it did not become a republic following the fall of communism. Mainly because of its low Jewish Population, and the fact that most of Russia’s Jews were emigrating to Israel anyway. Despite this, the area has retained increased autonomy in comparison to other oblast, including rights for the Yiddish language. The last type of federal subject are autonomous Okrugs, which are allowed to be simultaneously direct federal subjects of Russia, and subdivisions of an oblast, but they don’t have to be. As is the case with Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, which is no longer part of Magadan Oblast. The autonomous okrugs are meant to provide autonomy to the indigenous peoples of the north, and often cover large sparsely populated areas. Okrug can be translated as district or area, and many previous autonomous okrugs, have voted to become regular okrugs, and merged with other federal subjects. To recap Russia is composed of Republics, Oblasts, Krais, Federal Cities, Autonomous Okrugs and an Autonomous Oblast. Oblasts, Krais, and Federal Cities, are average federal subjects having the right to their own legislatures, while Republics, Autonomous Okrugs, and the Autonomous Oblast, are meant to provide additional rights to Russia’s minorities. Republics get their own constitutions and official language status, while the Autonomous Okrugs and Oblast get some language rights. Additionally Autonomous Okrugs can, but not always, be divisions of other federal subjects. All of it under the control of the Russian Federation. Kaliningrad Oblast, on the Baltic coast, is completely detached from the rest of Russia. You can watch this video I made which explains why Russia and other countries have these weird exclaves. You can also watch this video which explains why Istanbul and Crimea are so important to Russia. Also please consider clicking the Orb of Subscription (Top Right)


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