Saturday, July 8, 2023

War in Ukraine Forcing Some Russian Governors to Assume Higher Public Profiles

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 4 – In the 1990s, many of the heads of Russia’s federal subjects were publicly prominent, powerful in their own right and given to mobilizing the population of their regions. Then, during the first two decades of Putin’s time in office, most were reduced to almost faceless “effective managers” who seldom assumed a public persona.

            Now as a result of the consequences of Putin’s war in Ukraine, their roles are changing again with governors having to take on more public duties concerning mobilization and the handling of losses, journalist Tatyana Melinkyan says (

            This change has been especially great in the case of governors whose regions adjoin Ukraine and which have been subject to attack; but it is not confined to them, although few of the other federal subject heads have attracted as much as attention as these governors on the front line as it were.

            With the rise of social media over the last decade, some analysts began speaking about the emergence of a new generation of governors, “governors 2.0” in Russian parlance. Then after the start of the war, Moscow assigned governors especially in the frontline regions with new tasks including ensuring security and supporting public order.

            Being an effective manager was no longer enough, Moscow analyst Konstantin Kalachev says. Political skills were required, and governors began to show them, with some doing so out of a sense of compulsion and others believing that the display of such skills would work to their benefit and that of their regions.

            Now, Ilya Grashchenkov, head of the Center for the Development of Regional Policies, says, it is time to speak of “a super-new way” of governors or “governors 3.0.” They are still technocrats dependent on Moscow but at the same time they have to display political skills with the population to survive.

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