Saturday, November 16, 2019

Russian Governors Now More Popular than Putin but Unlikely to Act as a 1990s-Style Fronde

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 13 – Polls show that the approval ratings of Russia’s governors have risen significantly over the last year, while the standing of Vladimir Putin has continued to fall. If this trend continues – and it is likely to, Abbas Gallyamov says – the governors will soon be more popular than the president.

            The reason for that is that so many of the governors are recent appointees who do not have the baggage Putin does after 20 years in power, the Russian commentator and former Putin speechwriter says. And he suggests that before the Duma elections, this will restore a situation much like that in the 1990s (

            As a result, Gallyamov continues, then “now-forgotten signs of a regional fronde and separatism” will return. Voters in the provinces will be angry, and “the new heads of the regions will at some point ride this wave.”  If that happens, “no FSB will be able to stop this process just as at one time the KGB couldn’t.” 

            But the Region.Expert portal suggests that Gallyamov is being remarkably naïve for a former Kremlin official and that what he predicts is unlikely. That is because the governors in the 1990s were independent political actors while the governors now are bureaucratic appointees chosen precisely because they won’t act in the same way (

            “The citizens of the majority of regions of the Russian Federation,” the Tallinn-based regionalist portal says, “really are unhappy with Muscovite hyper-centralization, but at the same time, they are not so stupid as to struggle against it with the help of Moscow’s own representatives.”

            Gallyamov counters with the suggestion that the leaders of the union republics in 1991 were also Moscow’s representatives; but Region.Expert reminds that by that year, the leaders of the republics were “freely elected presidents or presidents of the supreme soviets (Landsbergis, Yeltsin, Kravchuk, Shushkevich and so on)” and no longer really Moscow’s men.

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