Yelena Ivanova, Natalia Seibil
The governor of the Khabarovsk Territory, Mikhail Degtyaryov, who was put on the brink by the Kremlin after the arrest of Sergei Furgal, became the country's most unloved governor. Citizens were the least likely to write anything positive about him on social networks. According to the Center for Current Politics, Degtyaryov received just over one percent of positive responses.
Every month, political scientists publish data on how much and with what words the population recalls the regional authorities. In November 2020, citizens began to mention their governors significantly less, writes the Center for Current Politics. Compared to October, the number of mentions decreased by 330 thousand messages. But if we compare with the beginning of the pandemic in April of this year, then in the fall, citizens wrote more than twice less often about their governors than in the spring. Mikhail Karyagin, an expert at the Center for Current Politics, which conducted the research, believes that the social behavior of citizens in the first and second waves of the pandemic is very different:
- In the first wave, they demanded some measures, let's shut us down. There was panic, fears, there was a high level of ignorance of how everything would end. And the second wave of the pandemic is completely different in terms of information. People realized that it was dangerous, but it is much more dangerous and sadder to be unemployed. For many people, these fears began to prevail, and there are no longer lockdowns, there are local restrictive measures in the regions. We see that the number of negative comments about the governors is not growing; such a second wave policy is welcome.
Nevertheless, Russians are still interested in the main topic of this year - the pandemic. All other topics that previously worried citizens have faded into the background. The focus of attention on other problems decreases. Everything is closed by the coronavirus, people are starting to pay less attention to old everyday problems - roads, kindergartens, etc., explains Mikhail Karjakin. However, a flurry of negativity has not yet been observed. This is the big difference between the first and second waves of coronavirus. Moscow has officially transferred all powers to combat coronavirus to the regions. However, the situation continues to deteriorate. The number of hospital beds is not growing, and there is no medicine. Head of the Center for the Development of Regional Policy Ilya Grashchenkov says:
- The situation is stalemate, however, it seems impossible to blame the federal center for everything, so the criticism focused on individual governors. People demand from them what they cannot fix. In the end, the idea to optimize medicine did not come from the regional authorities, but on the contrary - it was a decision of the federal ministry. Well, someone has to be responsible for the failure, right?
It is likely that this is why the regional authorities have expanded their powers to combat the pandemic, realizing that the epidemiological situation will only worsen, and those responsible will have to be found. In this case, it is more convenient to change the most failed governors, says Grashchenkov, and to amortize the protest against the government and the party in power on the eve of the elections to the State Duma.
57 out of 85 governors were mentioned less frequently. This became evident in the example of the mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin (-155 thousand mentions), although Sobyanin still ranks first in the number of reviews about him.
Mikhail Degtyaryov is in the top three in terms of two indicators at once: by the number of mentions he is the second, and by the number of positive messages he is the first from the end. Degtyaryov was never able to intercept the protest agenda in the Khabarovsk Territory, trying to suppress resistance in the region and becoming an annoying factor, says Grashchenkov:
- Degtyaryov communicates quite sharply with people, declares that there is no public money, constantly appeals to the instructions of the Kremlin. All this causes a lot of gossip in the federal and regional media. That is why he is among the leaders in terms of negative mention. It seems that his goal is not to correct his image and PR, but on the contrary, to worsen the position of the LDPR in the region as much as possible. Indeed, against the background of Degtyaryov's behavior, the image of United Russia even began to improve.
Mikhail Karyagin, analyzing the dynamics of statements in social networks around the person of Degtyaryov, believes that PR specialists have extinguished the negative around Degtyaryov in percentage terms. Yes, there are many negative comments about him, but it could be worse:
- When Degtyaryov came in, there were several hundred thousand mentions, now - 66 thousand. Interest in his person is gradually falling. I think that when they get it to a certain low level, it will be possible to work with this negativity. Because the negativity was big and difficult to fend off.
The most negative comments from the population on social networks were made by the Governor of the Tomsk Region Sergey Zhvachkin, the Governor of Vladimir Sipyagin and the head of Khakassia Valentin Konovalov.
The republican authorities under the leadership of Konovalov are struggling to cope with the epidemic. The situation in the republic has aggravated, and this immediately manifested itself on the Internet: compared with October, twice as many residents of the republic spoke about their leader. Their comments were extremely negative.
The governor of the Vladimir region, Sipyagin, although he himself suffered from covid, went to Moscow for treatment. This was not forgiven him.
Tomsk Governor Sergei Zhvachkin has other problems. He was appointed governor by Dmitry Medvedev, as president, but came under attack because of the landing of the mayor of Tomsk Klein. Liberal Democratic Party member Sipyagin and communist Konovalov are candidates for early retirement. All representatives of the Communist Party and LDPR are under fire from the state media, and it has intensified in the year of elections to the State Duma.
Residents criticize the Moscow mayor for the leakage of data from coronavirus patients, but not only:
"Firstly, we are talking about the leakage of data from patients with coronavirus. Secondly, Sobyanin is often mentioned in connection with the struggle for power within government groups. There is also a lot of negative information, for example, in connection with the upcoming elections in the capital", - Ilya Grashchenkov lists Sobyanin's weak points.
The attitude of Muscovites to their mayor has another explanation. And this is connected not with the person of Sobyanin, but with the inhabitants of the capital, says Karjakin:
The governors were criticized and praised in November in the same way as in the previous month, while, of course, they were criticized more often.
Among the governors there are also "excellent students". The head of Mari-El, Alexander Yefstifeyev, became the champion in good reviews, although there are frankly few responses to him from the people. He is one of the 5 governors at the bottom of the rating by the number of references. Every fifth person praised him for putting into operation a sports and recreation center in Privolzhsky. The head of the Jewish Autonomous Region, Rostislav Goldstein, distinguished himself by buying new ambulances and presenting awards to doctors. Tambov Governor Alexander Nikitin issued anti-crisis loans to entrepreneurs, and he was noted by one third more commentators than in October. But in general, both Mari-El and the Jewish Autonomous Region are quiet regions, there is no big noise from them either in politics or on the Internet.
For everyone else, several factors acted at once, such as more or less precise control over the epidemiological situation or positive events within the region. However, more often the ratings of governors are influenced not by regional events, but by federal ones, Grashchenkov said. Mikhail Karjakin disagrees with him. He thinks that the main thing for the governors is some social achievements in the region. This is the most effective way to change the attitude towards regional authorities.
The authors of the study draw attention to the fact that December is traditionally a calm month in terms of information; on the eve of the holidays, citizens are not up to the authorities, so ratings may fall even more. But they are also stipulated - if there are no big shocks. Let's spit over our left shoulder. There have been more than enough shocks this year.