Strong institutions and good governance are instrumental for success in the global economy. While the quality of national governance has positive effect on a country’s economic performance, it is not a necessary condition. Poor governance can be offset with the country’s comparative advantages; however, such advantages are likely to be geographically concentrated. We argue that in present-day Russia weak institutions and low quality of national governance make most regions unable to compete in the global economy.
The COVID-19 crisis has provided an opportunity to re-evaluate how the federal relations work in authoritarian Russia. In particular, the crisis has confirmed that the regional governors are an integral part of maintaining the stability of the non-democratic regime. Since the whole system and thus, the political careers of the incumbent governors depend on Putin’s popularity, they are interested in maintaining it, even at the expense of their own popularity with the population. In Spring 2020 the regional governors have demonstrated both loyalty and willingness to shield Putin from political responsibility for unpopular measures associated with the epidemic.