The title of the head of city administration, previously predsedatel’ gorodskogo soveta ‘Chairman of the City Council’, has been changed to mer ‘mayor’, a loan word [from French maire] which imparted a European flavour to the title of the city head. However, for some reason this was considered not to be good enough, and in 1995, in many towns, people found themselves electing not a mer but a gubernator ‘Governor’, a title dating back to the nineteenth century. This old name, exorcised in 1917, has now come full circle. In 1995 it caused some confusion among the population at large, because for many Russians casting their vote the word gubernator sounded outlandish and dated, and prompted a humorous reaction. The situation was all the stranger as there was no unified standard terminology: the head of the Moscow administration is called mer, while in St Petersburg the name of the same post is gubernator.