Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Moscow Wants Governors to Maintain Calm by Compromising with Protesters, New Report Suggests

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 9 – A new report rating the heads of federal subjects concludes that those reginal heads who are not able to maintain calm by finding some common ground with protesters will lose influence and may be removed from office, a finding that suggests the near future could be “a golden time for activists and protesters.”

            The Moscow Agency for Political and Economic Communications has released its latest report, “The Rating of the Influence of Heads of Subjects of the Russian Federation. Russian Regions and Regional Policy in December 2017” (ura.news/news/1052319033 and nakanune.ru/news/2018/01/08/22494293/).

            Dmitry Orlov, one of the authors of the report, notes that “2017 was a turbulent one with regard to regional policy, but in December, the federal center decided to calm the territories,” as Putin signaled at his press conference when he did not subject to criticism any of the regional authorities.

            “It is difficult to say just how long this course will last, but I think that we can project political stability in the regions until May 2018,” he continued.  Andrey Kolyadin, a Moscow political analyst concurs. What is taking place, he says, is “consolidation around one candidate. There won’t be any sharp declarations in the immediate future.”

            That of course opens the way during the presidential election for the coming weeks to be the occasion for protest movements which will try to attract the attention of the president during his travels to the regions.” The report says this may create “additional problems for the governors” who have been served notice that their ability to deal with protesters is critical.

            Orlov says that the Kremlin’s rating of the governors will depend on their ability to find common ground with the protesters because “their ability to create an atmosphere of calm, dialogue and civic peace will become one of the main criteria for the assessment of their effectiveness” and hence survival.

            “Sometimes,” the report author says, “in order to solve a problem, it is enough simply to meet, talk with people and find a joint agreement. Those who are not capable of doing this undoubtedly will lose their political positions.”

            At the same time, Orlov continues, the governors are themselves protected against any excessive attacks on their positions. Such moves will be viewed by Moscow not simply as an attack on this or that governor but as an attack on Putin – and they will be dealt with harshly.  Thus, protesters must walk a fine line before the elections.

            The report author is “certain” that conflicts about the regional leaders will rise after the elections and reach their peak in June and July  of this year before those temporarily fulfilling the positions are subject to voting. 

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