Putin leaves tough coronavirus decisions to regional aides

Russian president is distancing himself from lockdown measures, thrusting senior lieutenants into limelight

In a televised meeting last week, Mr Sobyanin warned Mr Putin that government figures showing low numbers of infections underestimated the true scale of the outbreak. And last weekend he announced that Moscow would be placed under near-total lockdown. These moves have left other parts of the Russian power structure scrambling to follow the mayor’s lead. “It’s a strange situation for the Russian government that it has to, in fact, follow Sobyanin’s measures, and it creates some uncomfortable positions,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, founder of R. Politik, a Russia-focused political analysis firm.
“Sobyanin is responsible only for Moscow, but it feels like he acts in a parallel reality compared to the federal government,” said Ms Stanovaya. “On one hand, Sobyanin is a deputy head of Mishustin’s co-ordination council, but on the other hand he has autonomy, answers directly to Putin and has a direct link to the president.” “Most of the measures have been proposed by him but surely approved and agreed by Putin,” said Ms Stanovaya. “Sobyanin will not move a finger without Putin’s assent.”

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