This chapter focuses on mayoral power and status in the Soviet and post-Soviet periods, from Mikhail Gorbachev to Vladimir Putin. Putin's reform of local government must be seen in light of his wider federal reforms and his attempts to instigate what he calls a 'power vertical' in Russia. The chapter examines the politics of local government reform and the problems of creating new municipalities based on the democratic principles of local self-governance. Russian local government has until relatively recently been rather neglected by Russian and western scholars. The legal and extra-legal powers of mayors in post-Communist Russia vary significantly. These variations spring primarily from the development of high levels of constitutional, socio-economic and political asymmetry amongst Russia's 89 federal subjects (regions, republics and autonomies). During the Communist era, local government was part of a highly centralised, authoritarian, and hierarchical system of state administration, dominated at every level by the Communist Party.