Staunton, April 16 – Many have seen the Kremlin’s willingness to defer to the regions as simply a tactic to avoid taking responsibility at this time of crisis while others have suggested that it points to a fundamental turn in Russian policy away from a harsh power vertical to a more genuine federalism.
The Club of the Regions, a group that brings together experts from around the Russian Federation, offers three views not so much on what is happening now – no one disputes the regions for the moment have more authority than they did – but what will be the case after the pandemic ends (club-rf.ru/detail/4020).
Oleg Bondarenko, director of the Progressive Politics Foundation, says that “now everything is moving along the path of greater federalism” and that he doubts that when the epidemic ends, the system will return to where it was. At the same time, however, he points out that most of the federalism people are pointing to remains “declarative rather than real.”
Dmitry Orlov, director of the Agency for Political and Economic Communications, says that he expects the status quo ante to be restored quickly after the pandemic ends. There might be a slight expansion in the authority and financial possibilities of local governance. But “in relations of the center and the regions will continue the current model.”
But Andrey Maksimov, vice president of the Russian Association of Political Consultants, says that the question remains open and will depend largely on how successful the governors are. If they do a good job, they may get to keep some of their new powers. If not, not. As a result, relations between Moscow and the regions could become more varied.