When President Putin pushed through legislation that will remove regional leaders from parliament at the end of next year, he eased their pain by seating them in a new Council of State. Some governors hope to turn the council, which has no legal status, into a new power center with a real legislative role. Putin, however, sees the council as “a political body of strategic purpose”–a talking shop and nothing more. So far his view prevails. The council met for the first time November 22 and debated state symbols: the anthem, the flag, the seal. A hot issue, but not high politics. Putin in the end decided the issue himself. He will ask the Duma to resurrect the Soviet anthem, keep the tsarist tricolor flag and two-headed eagle and use the red flag as the emblem of the armed forces.