Staunton, Apr. 21 – Some analysts have cast doubt on those who suggest that regionalism among Russians is a real force (themoscowtimes.com/2023/04/23/why-russia-wont-disintegrate-along-its-regional-borders-a80897); but others suggest the Kremlin feels compelled to take regional patriotism where it is strong into consideration in making appointments.
To the extent that the latter are correct, that is a clear sign that regional identity and patriotism at least in some predominantly ethnic Russian federal subjects is something that deserves attention rather than dismissal. If the Kremlin is paying attention to it, so should outside observers.
Yevgeny Minchenko, a prominent Moscow commentator, says that the recent appointment of a new governor for Krasnoyarsk of someone with roots in the region reflects a widespread view that regional identities and even “regional patriotism” is too strong there for the center to ignore (club-rf.ru/24/detail/6769).
“Krasnoyarsk,” he says, “is distinguished by a very high level of regional patriotism and it would hardly be wise to send in a figure from the outside. The fact that [the man Moscow has just named to be the new governor] is a Krasnoyarsk native and knows the kray well is undoubtedly a positive moment.”
Moreover, he continues, “everyone with whom I spoke to from the regional elites and from Krasnoyarsk people in Moscow and from business groups” suggested that naming such a native was a good idea.
What now needs to be established is whether and how many other regions present a similar image and challenge to the center. The fact that one, Krasnoyarsk, does, of course, does not make the weather; but it is a sign that challenges from the federal subjects can come from predominantly ethnic Russian regions and not just non-Russian autonomies.