Sunday, March 10, 2024

Even Local Elections Can Lead to Rise of Officials Ready to Challenge Moscow, Experts Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 5 – The Kremlin has been forced to seek the end of elections even of mayors because any official who is chosen by popular vote can become someone who will be ready to challenge Moscow on behalf of his own people, according to experts who have surveyed the limits of Putin’s power vertical.

            The Horizontal Russia portal and the Memorial human rights organization say that the Kremlin initially believed that ensuring it could install its own people as governors would be sufficient to prevent regionalist challenges but has found that this is insufficient even when it controls all financial flows (

            In regions where the capital city is extremely large relative to the population of the oblast, kray or republic as a whole, the mayor of that city is extremely powerful, often comparable in standing to the governor. And if he or she is elected, then such a mayor can challenge the governor and Moscow and become a people’s champion.

            As a result, the Kremlin has concluded that it has little choice but to end elections for mayors at all levels lest they become the breeding ground of new regional challenges. But ending such elections destroys the last vestige of real democracy and further isolates the powers and the people and thus undermines the power vertical in new ways.

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