Staunton, Jan. 29 – Putin’s moves to extend his power vertical into the regions began but did not end with his decision to end real elections for the heads of federal subjects, experts interviewed by the 7x7 news agency and Memorial. Rather, they continued and have assumed their current form by means of the Kremlin’s so-called Governors School.
That school, established in 2017 within the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service, has so far graduated 305 people. Of those, 49 have already gone one to be Kremlin-appointed heads of Russia’s more than 80 regions and republics (semnasem.org/articles/2024/01/29/iz-varyag-v-mestnye-kak-moskva-upravlyaet-regionalnoj-politikoj).
The Governors School allows the Kremlin to identify suitable candidates and to weed out those who may have looked good on paper but suffer from one or another characteristic that could lead them to be more independent of the center than the center wants, the experts the two centers interviewed continue.
Indeed, this training academy has become not only the main filter for those being considered as heads of the federal subjects but also the best way the Kremlin has of ensuring that those it does select and appoint will do what they are told. That is important because appointees are subject to enormous lobbying locally despite Moscow’s control of the purse strings.