Staunton, November 6 – Vladimir Putin has taken another step toward assuming complete control over the regions: Not only has he shown himself willing to dismiss governors without any obvious cause, but he is now calling for the Duma to approve a measure that will make his Russian Guard the protectors and thus the potential jailors of regional officials.
The Kremlin leader’s latest move comes in the form of a proposed amendment to the law on his national guard, a force directly subordinate to and entirely controlled by Putin. Adding insult to injury is the requirement that the regional governors will have to pay for this “service” (versia.ru/prezident-rf-predlozhil-vverit-rosgvardii-zashhitu-gubernatorov).
Given the Kremlin’s control of the Russian legislature, there is no question that this measure will be approved; and given its power over the regions already, there is little question that this move will be on a voluntary basis despite the language of the proposal. Few will be able to say no, and thus they will be forced to do away with their own guards and accept Putin’s.
Most governors now have their own guards who are presumably loyal to them. The most extravagant case, of course, is that of Ramzan Kadyrov of Chechnya who may prove an exception to this new pattern or who may find himself even more at odds with the Kremlin than he has been in the past.
But the bottom line is this: Putin has now eliminated one of the last bases of confidence regional leaders have that the center can’t dismiss and even arrest them at will certain that they won’t be able to show even the least resistance, the kind of thing that at least on occasion may have stayed Moscow’s hand in the past.