Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Appointment of Siloviki as Regional Heads ‘More Important’ than Any Regional Amalgamation, Petersburg Politics Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 10 – Vladimir Putin’s decision to name two more siloviki to head two more federal subjects, bringing their total to ten and the repressive policies they have immediately unleashed, is “far more important” than new talk about regional amalgamation, according to Petersburg Politics Foundation.

            In its report for April released today, the group says that it has reached this conclusion because these appointments come near the start of the Duma electoral cycle and signal the Kremlin’s intention to have “men in uniform” and with security service skills in place to control the situation (ura.ru/articles/1036267795 and fpp.spb.ru/fpp-rating-2016-04).

            In the words of Mikhail Vinogradov, president of the foundation, “intrigue remains in the relationships of the regions with the federal authorities as to whether as to whether the federal center will allow the governors to strengthen their positions inside their territories and create lobbyists in the federal parliament or will take steps intended to lower” the power of governors.

            Many regional elites were disturbed by Valentina Matviyenko’s suggestions about regional amalgamation, the foundation head said. But reaction to her ideas showed that there was no new body of support for moving in that direction. Instead, it was simply Moscow reminder that no federal subject and no governor is “’untouchable.’”

            In an analysis of this report for the URA.ru portal, Yekaterina Lazareva agrees that too much has been made about the amalgamation discussion and that Putin’s appointment of two more siloviki to be regional heads is a far more important indicator of where the country is headed, especially as these new men quickly solidified their power with arrests.

            She cites the words of Leonid Davydov, a political analyst, who pointed out that “the siloviki have levers: the president told them to ensure the purity of elections, including the primaries” and consequently, they will do what they can to ensure that in order to remain in office. Only time will tell if they will succeeds.

            A major problem is the management of single-member district voting, something that has not taken place for more than ten years. In such districts, the role of the parties and of normal administrative measures may be lower. That may be one of the reasons the Kremlin is now turning to the siloviki, who have their own special means.

            The Petersburg Politics Foundation listed ten federal subjects where there may be problems and where Moscow may want to rely on siloviki in the near future. They are Buryatia, Komi Republic, Primorsky kray, Khabarovsk kray, Voronezh oblast, Ivanovo oblast, St. Petersburg, and two Urals subjects, Sverdlovsk and Chelyabinsk. Oblasts.

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