Much of the initiative and dynamism of the Communist Party in Leningrad may have been knocked out by Stalin's murderous purge of party officials after World War II. But there also may be a good deal of intercity rivalry in the Leningrad Establishment's suspicion of what goes on in Moscow.
The situation in Leningrad underscores the difficulty of applying [Mikhail S. Gorbachev]'s reforms outside Moscow. Some of the problem stems from personnel. The centralized Soviet government has found it easier to fire officials and appoint new ones in Moscow than farther away in cities like Leningrad. Reform decrees out of Moscow thus have to be implemented in Leningrad by officials identified with the policies that have to be changed.
"If you quote Gorbachev to them," he said, "they will quote Gorbachev right back at you, but they will not do anything. They will not reject your proposal but tell you it has been passed up to someone else. After a month, they will say that one phrase in your letter needs rewriting and that you should start all over again. We could appeal to Moscow to overrule Leningrad, but Moscow seems very far away."