“Today, Moscow is in the spotlight as the epicenter of the novel coronavirus and the place where Sergei Sobyanin, the main person in charge of combating COVID-19 works,” said Kolesnikov, an analyst at Carnegie Moscow Center. “In fact, during the epidemic Moscow Mayor is acting as President of the Russian Federation.”
Additional powers that were given to the governors of Russia’s regions in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic have not increased their political influence. Therefore, there is no threat to the federal center. However, it is not the case with Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin. Seemingly, in the new circumstances he was quick on the uptake. Recently, Sobyanin has taken so many duties that it looks like as if he runs the country, Andrey Kolesnikov, the head of the Russian Domestic Politics and Political Institutions Program at the Carnegie Moscow Center, said in an interview with the Echo of Moscow radio.
“The governors had had power even before the coronavirus epidemic started in the country,” said Andrey Kolesnikov. “Basically, these were just conventional things, because those who could work did work and got their salaries, and who could not – they did not.
“Given what Vladimir Putin said about size of the country, different conditions and various numbers of cases, responsibility has always been shifted to or shared with the governors. Certainly, Moscow has been in the spotlight as the epicenter of the novel coronavirus and the place where Sergei Sobyanin, the main person in charge of combating COVID-19 works. However, the governors continue to be responsible for everything. I believe that it will stay that way until the end of this pandemic. Then the results will be summed up. As the Russian federalism is based on budgetary federalism, there is no sense in discussions that the governors have received a lot of power,” Kolesnikov said.