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Russian Regional Elite Probing Chances to Return to Direct Election -- Pundit

Moscow, 16 June: The remarks by the president of Tatarstan, Mintimer Shaymiyev, in favour of restoring a direct election of regional heads - governors - is the beginning of regional elites probing possible changes in the Russian authorities' position concerning the matter, Aleksey Makarkin of the Political Technologies Centre, believes.

"I believe that regional elites are probing possible changes in regional policy following the change of the president. The probing is under way. Only a short time ago these remarks were hardly possible," Makarkin told Interfax.

Last week Shaymiyev spoke for restoring the election of governors. "I believe we will return to this (electing heads of regions). We need to elect [governors]," Shaymiyev said.

In Makarkin's opinion, Shaymiyev's remarks reflect the feelings of a considerable part of regional elite, however, the probing of the matter will be conducted very carefully.

"I believe that the probe will be conducted carefully enough. It was not by accident that it was begun by Shaymiyev, one of the most influential regional leaders. Many representatives of regional elites would like to see these changes, but they fear the consequences for themselves and they are hardly likely to voice what Shaymiyev said in this situation having a very influential region to back him," Makarkin said.

At the same time he believes that "the probe is unlikely to result in any serious changes". [Passage omitted]