In January 1997 the author embarked on a study within a three-year research project, supported by the Swedish Research Council on the Humanities and Social Sciences. The title of the project is "Russian Self-Images and Foreign-Policy Orientations in a Time of Change." Its aim is to identify views of Russian politicians, mainly at intermediate levels, regarding Russia's role and mission in the international context and also regarding key issues related to internal developments. Within the project, interviews are undertaken with parliamentarians in Moscow, as well as with regional parliamentarians in St. Petersburg, Volgograd and Khabarovsk. This will provide for insights as regards similarities and differences between central and regional levels of political life. In order to calibrate the working tools and to test theoretical key assumptions, a pilot study was undertaken in the city of Perm in September 1997. In this article, a comparison is made between the results of the pilot study and the findings emerging from the regular rounds of interviews conducted in St. Petersburg in November 1997 and January 1998, in Volgograd in May 1998 and in Khabarovsk in November 1998. All in all, the article builds upon seventy-six in-depth interviews with regional politicians.