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Local democracy development strategy in Russia is successful in the Arctic.

The development of territorial public self-government (hereinafter – TPSG) in Russia will be carried out within the framework of the strategy until 2030.  The development of forms of citizens’ self-organization at the level of their home, street, district, village, and cooperative serves as a platform for building a civil society, the formation of which is a priority task for authorities at all levels. One such form, provided for in Russian law, is territorial public self-government. The development of new tourist products, the preservation of cultural heritage, the improvement of territories, the training of local people, and the construction and restoration of local infrastructure are only some of the tasks that TPSs in Russia are tackling today. At the same time, the Novosibirsk and Arkhangelsk Regions have the largest number of active citizens’ associations in the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation.

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Territorial public self-government history in Russia, which had its origins in rural communities in 1837 at the time of Alexander II and was not lost in the USSR in the forms of house, village, street, block committees and housing and construction cooperatives, has been given a new development in Russia. The 1990 law On General Principles of Local Self-Government and Local Economy in the USSR was replaced by the 1995 law On General Principles of Organization of Local Self-Government in the Russian Federation.

In 2020, according to the annual joint monitoring of the Nationwide Association of TPSG and the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation, there are 34,874 TPSGs in 84 constituent entities of the Russian Federation. Only the Chukotka Autonomous District has not established CBT bodies. In 2021, TPSG will be organized in this region. At the same time, 2,437 TPSG bodies were registered as legal entities (in 62 subjects of the Russian Federation), which is 6.9% of the total number of TPSG bodies in the country. At the same time, over the five years of monitoring, the number of TPSG increased from 23,504 by almost 50%, and the number of subjects of the Russian Federation covered by TPSG movement increased from 56 to 84 subjects of the Russian Federation.

TPSG analysis of the state of allows us to conclude that the TPSS system can become the basis for a favorable social and psychological climate in cities, villages, districts, neighborhoods and courtyards, and the main driving force for improving the quality of life of Russian residents.

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The Arkhangelsk region, which has been developing this institution since 1998, has accumulated extensive experience of state support for TPSG bodies. Between 2001 and 2006, the experience of local democracy and rural development from Sweden was successfully adapted here with the support of SIDA (Swedish International Development Agency) and the Arkhangelsk region Administration. Activists have studied the experience of establishing TPSG bodies and rural economy development in Northern Europe. More than 40 potential and current entrepreneurs are being trained by professors of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Northern (Arctic) Federal State University named after Mikhail Lomonosov in business planning. Many of these approaches are still in use today at different levels. Since 2011, the program-targeted method of funding the TPSG movement has been implemented, and both rural and urban settlements, as well as urban districts, receive subsidies for TPSG project activities. Training seminars are regularly held in the region and an internet portal is in operation.

An important milestone was the adoption in February 2013 of a regional law on state support for TPSG, one of the first regional laws. The main form of state support for TPSG in Arkhangelsk region is subsidizing, on a competitive basis, projects designed to solve local problems. In 2011 – 2012, 15 million rubles were annually allocated from the regional budget for this purpose, in 2013 – 25 million rubles. A total of 65.3 million rubles was spent from the regional budget to support CBT projects over the period 2006 – 2013. Local budgets contributed 38.3 million rubles to the projects. About 120 million rubles were raised from non-budgetary sources over the years. This made it possible to implement 1212 TPS projects during 8 years. By the number of the TPS bodies – 1136 – the Arkhangelsk region takes the first place in the North-West, more than 90% of them are located in the rural areas, which indicates the strong involvement of the villagers in the current tasks of improving the quality of life at the local level.

In 2020, the Arkhangelsk Regional TPS Association was established; one of its objectives is to improve the quality of grant support for TPSs and to increase the transparency of competitive procedures for the distribution of financial support. The Association takes an active part in forming a strategy for the development of the TPSG movement in Russia.

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Russia is currently adopting a Strategy for the Development of Territorial Public Self-Governance until 2030, the implementation of which will strengthen this institution of civic initiatives. The goal of the Strategy is to create a system of TPSG throughout the Russian Federation, forming an interdepartmental partnership of authorities, deputies and institutions at all levels with residents, businesses, NGOs to ensure the growth of the quality of life in the country. Thus, the bodies of territorial public self-government, through improving the quality of organization, infrastructure for their current activities, events and management of information flows, will be a basic element of local self-government in a particular territory of their activity.

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Author: Yan Turov, Director, NGO “Economic Programs Foundation”, member of the Board of the Association “Arkhangelsk Regional Association of Territorial Public Self-Government”.

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