Since Sergey Sobyanin became Moscow’s mayor, people and the expert community have a mixed opinion about him. Later, when Sobyanin and his inner circle got used to the situation in Moscow, the process of his interaction with the residents and experts seemed to have been switched to the standard bureaucratic track.
However, in 2020, the situation started changing not only rapidly, but at a speed that even the most experienced revolutionaries might feel jealous of.
From the first days of the pandemic of the novel coronavirus Moscow’s authorities with Mayor Sobyanin in the lead managed to do an almost impossible thing. They maintained stability in the country which was one of the last in the world to start imposing COVID-19 restrictions. Moreover, the situation was also kept in check in the Russian capital having a full set of risk factors ranging from enormous number of residents and its population density to the status of a business and tourist center with a huge flow of foreign citizens. Certainly, Sobyanin was criticized for the mandatory face mask requirements, the pass control system and a number of other COVID-19 “innovations.” But after a while the measures taken by Moscow's city hall proved successful, and Sobyanin began to be called “the guy who had done it.” In comparison, even Vladimir Putin’s personality faded for a while. Numerous political analysts started predicting a “brilliant” future in the political arena for Sobyanin, reserving the role of the next Prime Minister or even the successor to Putin for him.
However, when the self-isolation was almost over, the rhetoric in the expert community changed, and Sobyanin began to be called a person who had become a headchace, if not an obstacle, for the incumbent Russian President. Already in August, political analysts one after another started talking about the fate of Moscow Mayor hanging in limbo. Predictions suggested Sobyanin would be transferred to some more minor position by courtesy of the Presidential Administration. Mikhail Delyagin, a Russian economist, politician and publicist, was one of the first who predicted Sobyanin’s dismissal from the most senior position in Moscow City. Even before the beginning of summer he said that Sobyanin’s chances to stay in Moscow’s administration are extremely low. It turned out that Delyagin continues sticking to this opinion. On the air of Aurora radio station he confirmed his point of view regarding the incumbent Moscow Mayor.
“Several months ago you said that Sobyanin was everything. What does the current situation look like?” the host of the show asked Delyagin. In response he said that Moscow Mayor had indeed lost his high status in the eyes of the Kremlin officials. In addition, according to Delyagin, Sergey Sobyanin is no longer seen as a possible successor to Putin.
“It’s true, I said it,” Delyagin recalled. “However, Sobyanin managed to justify himself and apologized. At the same time, the struggle of the elites against Moscow Mayor continues. The elites are eager to dismiss Sobyanin.
“It can be said for sure that Sobyanin is no longer regarded as the successor to Vladimir Putin. In this sense, Sobyanin is everything. Initially, he was Putin’s successor who was practically appointed to the position of Prime Minister by the incumbent Russian President. At that moment, Sobyanin made his main mistake urging to bring one of his trusted individuals to Moscow.
“It became obvious that the then Prime Minister, who would also control the Russian capital through a trustee, would have too much power in his hands. This move on the part of Sobyanin was blatantly foolish.
“The info-war against him is going on. Moscow Mayor is no longer considered a successor to Putin,” Delyagin said.