Staunton, October 7 – “The Kremlin isn’t interested in the appearance of new regional leaders,” St. Petersburg political analyst Mikhail Vinogradov says, because regional and republic heads with a serious base of support could challenge Moscow and use that backing as the basis of demands for compromise.
“A popular regional leader presents too great risks for the existing system, Vinogradov says; and with its current set of appointments, it has sent “a clear signal that governors should not work for ‘popular affection’ but act exclusively in pursuit of ‘the Kremlin’s sympathy’” (iarex.ru/articles/54594.html).
“A genuinely popular governor could use his position for trade with the center,” he says, “and only one governor, Ramzan Kadyrov [of Chechnya] is in a position to do that. The Kremlin simply cannot allow a situation in which in each region there would be its own analogue to Ramzan.”
That calculation rather than anything else, Vinogradov suggests, explains why Vladimir Putin has chosen such “faceless bureaucrats” for these positions. Such people are unlikely to be able to develop a following; and of course, if there is any sign that they are doing so, they can be replaced by those who can’t.