Covid-19 and the Russian Regional Response: Blame Diffusion and Attitudes to Pandemic Governance
As was the case with other federal states, Russia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was decentralized and devolved responsibility to regional governors. Contrary to the common highly centralized governance in Russia, this approach is thought to have helped insulate the government from criticism. Using local research and analysis based on a national representative survey carried out at the height of the pandemic during the summer of 2021, the article charts the public response to the pandemic across Russia. It examines the regionalization of the response, with an in-depth focus on two of the Russian cities with the highest infection rates but differing responses to the pandemic: St. Petersburg and Petrozavodsk. There are two main findings: at one level, the diffusion of responsibility meant little distinction was made between the different levels of government by the population; at another level, approval of the pandemic measures was tied strongly to trust levels in central and regional government.