In 2000 Putin initiated a series of federal reforms whose primary aims were to create a unified economic, legal and security space across the Federation. Over the last seven years we have witnessed a concerted attack on the powers of the regions and localities and a recentralization of economic and political power in the hands of the Kremlin. Through the instigation of what he terms a ‘dictatorship of law’, Putin has sought to reign in the anarchic and feudal powers of the regions, and to bring an end to the ‘negotiated federalism’ of the Yeltsin era. More recently the president has turned his attention to politics at the sub-

regional level. In July 2001 Putin set up a Commission, chaired by Dmitry Kozak (the Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration), which was charged with drawing up new proposals on the distribution of powers between federal, regional and local governments. Proposals from the Commission have led to amendments to nearly 200 Federal laws. In 2002 the Commission drafted a new law on local self-government, which was ratified by the Duma on 16 September 2003 and signed by the President on 6 October. The Law, ‘On the Principles of Organizing Local Self Government in the Russian Federation’ (hereafter, the 2003 Law),1 was originally scheduled to come into force on 1 January 2006 but in October 2005 the Duma passed legislation postponing full implementation until 2009, that is, until after the completion of the 2007-8 cycles of parliamentary and presidential elections. The 2003 Law seeks to establish a uniform and universal system of local

government throughout the country. It calls for the creation of a two-tiered system, comprising upper level ‘municipal districts’ and their constituent ‘settlements’ (city and rural). There is also a third type of municipality, the ‘city districts’ (city okrugs), which stands outside the jurisdiction of the municipal districts. Since the adoption of the 2003 Law the number of municipalities has doubled to 24,210. Before discussing the first round of elections to these new bodies of local self-government municipalities we need to examine Putin’s recent radical reforms of party and electoral legislation. As I shall demonstrate, Putin has now instigated an ‘electoral vertical’ which stretches from the Kremlin through the regions to the grassroots.