BASEES Annual Conference 2022

Political Factors of Sub-National Responses to COVID-19 in Autocracies: Evidence from Russia

Fri8  Apr02:00pm(20 mins)
Umney Theatre
Mr Nikita Khokhlov


Nikita Khokhlov


How do authoritarian regimes respond to the global pandemic? Building on the principal-agent and blame avoidance frameworks, this paper develops a theory of authoritarian responses to the global pandemic drawing from theory-informing study of Russia. Contrary to the prevailing policy centralization trend, the response to COVID-19 in Russian Federation was however delegated to the sub-national level of government. The regional authorities faced a trade-off between saving the lives of the population and minimizing economic losses. I argue that  preferences of the sub-national leaders regarding the trade-off were primarily determined by political incentives and their personal characteristics, specifically proximity of elections, governor’s strength and the governor’s status of outsider . The study applies statistical analysis to understand the factors determining the relative stringency of the local anti-COVD-19 policies in authoritarian context.