Staunton, October 12 – Many American newspapers now feature sections devoted to the top story in individual states or regions of the country on a weekly or even daily basis, but Russian news outlets almost never do that, instead providing a barrage of stories about what is happening in Moscow and almost nothing from elsewhere barring violence or a leader visit.
That pattern both reflects and reinforces the Moscow-centric vision of that country found among many Russians and equally among many Western specialists on that country and virtually guarantees that the regions will not form the kind of parallel attachments that would allow for the orderly decentralization of power and the creation of genuine federalism.
Now, however, there are beginning to be glimmers on some websites if not yet on Russian television or mainstream Moscow newspapers of more regular coverage of the regions, with some of these outlets picking the most important story of the week in the federal districts if not all of the far more numerous federation subjects.
Polit.ru today launched the first of a weekly series of the top news items over the last seven days from the federal districts, including those in Russian-occupied Crimea. Not only are the stories interesting in and of themselves, but they are useful as sources of ideas for other regions and because of the commentary the portal provides (polit.ru/article/2014/10/12/top9/).
The nine stories are the terrorist act in the Chechen capital, the partial closure of McDonalds restaurants in Volgograd, a new lawsuit in Ryazan about a fake social network account, the cancellation of the Andrey Makarevich concern in Perm, the dismissal of officials in Karelia who had avoided military service, the confiscation of toys for trademark violations in Yekaterinburg, a missing girl in Kemerovo found dead, a WWF report on the mass death of wildlife in Chukotka, and the Bank of Russia issues money in honor of the annexation of Crimea.
As can be seen, many of these stories are truly local ones, but others reflect how central policies are playing out in the regions or represent bellwethers about the direction Moscow may be moving. In any case, they provide a more textured view of the Russian Federation as a whole than that typically offered in Moscow, something the regions, outside observers, and even Moscow will benefit from.