Governors under fire: untangling the politics of Russia’s regions

Former head of Mari El region Leonid Markelov
Days after receiving praise from Russian President Vladimir Putin, Leonid Markelov, the former head of the Mari El region, was arrested on corruption charges (source: dpa)
  • Several governors have been removed and arrested for corruption
  • Their replacements are often unqualified and subject to a fickle system
  • Other leaders are leading unpopular initiatives that could cause a backlash
  • These moves could undermine Mr. Putin, and may even be designed to do so

Predictions that Russian regions would undergo a wave of gubernatorial dismissals and appointments between the September 2016 parliamentary elections and the presidential elections scheduled for March 2018 have proven accurate. Several governors have resigned and new ones appointed, a process that is likely to continue. Some think that these moves are designed to strengthen President Vladimir Putin’s hand and tighten his grip over his famous “power vertical.” However, the opposite is more likely to be the case.

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