Red Belt (Russia)

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The Red Belt or Red Zone (Russian: Красный пояс) was a group of Russian regions with a stable support for the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and other left parties in local and federal elections. The term came into wide use from the mid-1990s after Communist candidates won a number of regions from non-Communist opposition candidates. The "red zone" comprised predominantly agricultural areas of Central Russia, the national republics of the North Caucasus, as well as a number of the southern regions of Siberia and the Far East. With the coming to power of Vladimir Putin (31 December 1999) and reduced support for the Communist Party, the "red belt" ceased to exist.

Reasons for Formation[edit]

In 1999, the regions of the "red zone", according to the analyst Rostislav Turovsky, included the Smolensk, Bryansk, Kaluga, Orel, Kursk, Belgorod, Ryazan, Lipetsk, Tambov, Voronezh, Penza, Ulyanovsk, Saratov, Volgograd and Astrakhan regions. In these areas, featuring a high proportion of rural population with the appropriate mentality,[clarification needed] voters increased inherent conservatism. However, with the economic development of different regions, they are not among the most depressed. Turov noted strong support for the Communist Party in the North Caucasus (except in Ingushetia). In the territories and regions of the North Caucasus, a predominantly Russian population of this area support Communist candidates, in his opinion, due to the same reasons as in the rest of the "red zone". In the national republics (Karachay-Cherkessia, Dagestan and North Ossetia) support is due to nostalgia for the Soviet era, when these poor areas experienced ethno-political and socio-economic stability. In the Urals, and to the east of them, Turovskii notes strong pro-communist sentiment in regions such as Orenburg, Kurgan, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Chita Oblast and Altai Krai, as well as in agricultural areas and in districts of mostly Russian national composition (the Altai Republic, the Ust-Orda Buryat AO and the Jewish AO).[citation needed] According to political scientist Alexander Kanev, "in fact the so-called red zone of the 1990s was no more than a residual support for the former communist government. As soon as the new government is "well established" and returned to the familiar (Soviet) rhetoric and behavior, it has become an electoral power base inherit the previous."[citation needed]

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