Sunday, October 22, 2017

Old Regional Elites Served Themselves and the People; the New Ones Serve Only the Kremlin, Kolyadin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 22 – Andrey Kolyadin, a Moscow political scientist who earlier headed the Presidential Administration’s regional affairs department, makes a remarkably frank statement about how the governors appointed by Vladimir Putin differ fundamentally from those in the 1990s who were elected by their constituencies.

            The old governors frequently told Moscow officials “You didn’t choose me … the people did!” and therefore insisted that their views and not those of the center. When the governors were re-elected, that only confirmed them in their views, Kolyadin says, and the federal authorities simply didn’t know what to do (

            “The wild 1990s,” he continues, “required particular qualities in the heads of territories. Their charisma, ability to organize relations, and the talents of a public politician often determined whether the region would survive.  Charismatic figures easily won elections, created political parties, met with leaders of foreign states and launched various economic projects.”

            At that time, there wasn’t much hope that the federal center could do anything. Moreover, “they themselves were part of the federal center and stars of the political and economic heavens. Presidents had to take them into consideration and consult with them,” the political analyst continues.

            “But then the center began step by step, law by law, year by year to reduce the authority of the regions. Major corporations registered their offices in Moscow. They paid taxes there. The siloviki ceased to depend on the governors. Elections ceased to be free and then were done away with altogether.”

            Despite these changes, many of the same people remained in office, people “who remembered” how thing shad been earlier. And their habits and even more their expectations remained what they had been a decade before, Kolyadin suggests.  They no longer corresponded to the system and had to be replaced.

            At first this was done in a targeted fashion, he says; but then it became a general and “systemic” one.  The new people were managers from the federal ministries, and while not all of them were young, “each was part of the system,” the new system and not the old.

            It never came into their heads to lecture federal politicians or officials about the rights and dignities of the regions. “The goal of the new elite is to fulfill the tasks set by the center. Not in spite of the aspirations of the people” but with a view to the country as a whole rather than any of its regions in particular.

            “If necessary,” the new people are “ready to support any federal initiative without thinking about their ratings and upcoming elections. If there is a problem, it simply must be fixed.” The governor now “only fulfills the tasks he is set.” He doesn’t pursue his own interests or those of the population of his region. 

            This new system, the Moscow political analyst says, “allows administering the entire country as a single well-formed mechanism,” in which the center sets the goals and the appointed leaders in the regions do what they are told to address whatever problems arise, economic, ethnic or of any other kind. 

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