President Putin’s proposal to eliminate gubernatorial elections throughout Russia caught the leaders of Russia’s ethnic republics by surprise. Although it was widely known that such ideas had been circulating in the Kremlin for some time, no one in the regional governments expected this “reform” at the time it was announced. Nevertheless, reactions to the initiative were both quick and varied.
In this memo, I examine the initial reactions to this initiative on the part of various political actors in the region and analyze the factors that led these politicians to take the stands that they took, focusing primarily on the ethnic republics of Russia’s Volga region. I also examine the public reaction to this initiative, particularly among Russia’s ethnic minorities. I conclude by discussing the impact that the appointment of the leaders of Russia’s ethnic republics will have on regional politics and relations between the regions and Moscow. […]