Staunton, June 27 – The Committee on Civic Initiatives, a group founded by Aleksey Kudrin, has released a 49-page report on Russian mayors showing that their professional qualifications have declined as elections have become rare and that after leaving these posts, they either were promoted or sent to jail.
The report, the full text of which is available at komitetgi.ru/upload/iblock/b73/ Мэры ФИНАЛ (1).pdf, has attracted widespread attention (e.g., newtimes.ru/articles/detail/182258, komitetgi.ru/analytics/4102/ and vedomosti.ru/politics/articles/2019/06/26/805155-merov-rossiiskih), but it remains unclear what impact if any it will have on the future of city heads.
The committee examined the fate of 359 mayors in 109 cities over the last 11 years, a number that be itself shows that few mayors remain in office for very long. Of the 263 who left office, about a fifth joined regional governments, 20 became members of the Duma or Federation Council, and 12 became governors.
But what has attracted the most attention is that 39 – 15 percent of the total – were charged with crimes, mostly related to corruption because mayors are often among the most corrupted officials and those who were elected as opposed to being appointed often lacked protection from above.
Eleven years ago, 125 of the mayors had been elected by the population; now only 12 of those coming to office in the last year have been. Moscow justified this professionalization as a means of improving the quality of those in these positions, but in fact, the committee found, fewer of the new mayors had university training in economics and administration.
More, however, have backgrounds in law and are more likely to focus on following the rules Moscow sets than in trying to promote the development of the cities they are in charge of, clearly a result that those at the center want. What is especially interesting is that there is little movement between mayors’ offices and local business as is often the case in other countries.
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