What is holding the regions back, he continues, is that while there is overwhelming agreement that Moscow is stealing from them and should be reined in, there is widespread concern that any call for more local government and control could lead the country down the path to disintegration. That view must be overcome if the regions are to play the role they can.
But there is a conceptual problem as well among those who follow events in Russia. Overwhelmingly they focus on events only in Moscow and consider developments in the regions only when they generate a reaction among officials and commentators within the ring road, as was the case with reactions to regional defeats of United Russia in the September 9 voting.
To the extent Ponomaryev and Shtepa are right, it is critically important to track what is going on in the regions not just in terms of its immediate impact on Moscow but also in terms of what it means for political life in them and thus in the longer term for political life and even revolutionary change in the country as a whole.