Saturday, January 16, 2021

Kremlin Turns to Deputy Governors to Rebuild Support, Kislitsyna Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 13 – Five days from now, the Kremlin is bringing to Moscow the deputy governors of the federal subjects to discuss a variety of issues, Darya Kislitsyna says. These include defeating the pandemic and its social consequences, promoting national projects at the regional level, and ensuring that pro-Moscow parties will win out in the Duma elections.

            This is the first ever such meeting and calls attention to the growing importance in Moscow’s eyes of the governors in the regions, officials who are charged with overseeing many domestic policy issues already, the head of regional programs at the Expert Institute for Social Research and other specialists suggest (

            At the center of attention of the upcoming Moscow meeting, Ivan Chuprov of the URA news agency says, are the Duma elections given that support for the ruling United Russia party has fallen to new lows and polls show that Russian voters are not enamored by it or other parties and instead are looking for those who can do more than promise stability.

            One issue that Moscow hopes to play on is the role of volunteers in Russian life, but Moscow experts say that as welcome as these people are in many parts of the country, the center will not be able to use this effectively. That this is what the Kremlin plans to rely on highlights its lack of a serious program, they say.

            According to one expert with whom Chuprov spoke on conditions of anonymity, the Kremlin now is being forced to consider that it won’t be able to engineer an outright victory for United Russia in many places but instead will have to try to defend the status quo via “a coalition of United Russian deputies and extra-parliamentary parties.”

            And what that means, he says, is that the Kremlin is not only going to have to try to boost the authority of regional governments but not put all its eggs in the single basket of a United Russia victory. Doing that in fact could backfire given that Russians know that polls show the various opposition parties new and old rival the party of power.

            VTsIOM analyst Mikhail Mamonov confirms this. According to his agency’s surveys, “63 percent of Russians consider that not one of the existing parties represent their interests” and thus are actively considering whom to vote for, including those no one had thought had a chance for victory in the past.

            He adds that 62 percent of Russians are convinced that the current Russian government, which is based on United Russia, isn’t doing enough to help their regions, a finding that means there could be some radical shifts in the federal subjects with new challenges to the existing authorities there and in Moscow.

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