Saturday, May 18, 2024

Governorships and the Power Vertical: More Complicated Career Paths

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 14 – Vladimir Putin has reduced the governors of Russia’s federal subjects from being independent actors in the Russian political system to being Moscow’s agents in an increasingly centralized country. That is common ground, but relations between Moscow and the governors is more complicated than that, given where they come from and where they then go.

            Recent elevation of governors to the central government and the appointment of new governors to replace them suggests some of these complexities. Aleksey Mukhin, a political scientist who works with the Club-RF portal, points out that all four of the governors recently elevated to the cabinet had backgrounds in the federal service (

            He says that “almost everyone who earlier moved from Moscow to the regions intended to return to the federal level but in a different role,” higher than the one he left. Their service in the regions and republics is thus a way of testing them. And he added that there is no case where a federal politician remained in the regions if he had a choice.

            But at the same time, the Verstka portal points out that “of the five acting governors Vladimir Putin has just appointed, only one – Deputy Prosecutor General Dmitry Demyoshin, who is going to Khabarovsk, is not directly related to the regional authorities” he will now be in charge of (

            Three of Putin’s appointees – in Kursk, Tula and Kemerovo  oblasts – “had earlier worked in these regions in subordinate roles, while the new head of the Kaliningrad region, Aleksey Bezprozvannykh, had spent most of his career in the regional government rather than at the federal level.”

            The patterns these two reports point to suggest that Moscow will still use outsiders to solidify its control over regions and republics but that these “outsiders” may be less outside than most analysts in Russia and the West have been accustomed to thinking. 


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