The institutionalization and nationalisation of Russia’s party system, which is dominated by United Russia (UR), has played a major role in the building of Putin’s ‘power vertical’. Nevertheless, despite the fact that formal relations within United Russia are highly centralized, informal practices allow for far greater degrees of regional autonomy. Focusing on UR’s candidate selection for the 2011 Duma election this paper provides an examination of cross-regional variations in the relations between UR’s Party Centre and its regional branches. As electoral legislation requires the segmentation of party lists into “regional groups”, the composition of the regional lists, specifically the share of “native candidates”, is considered as an indicator of the level of autonomy of regional branches. Ordinal regression analysis confirms our main theoretical hypotheses. In the more financially autonomous regions, UR’s regional branches will have more leverage and bargaining power in their relations with the Party Centre. The second influential factor is heterogeneity: the more a region deviates, in one way or another, from the average (all-Russian) indicators, the less the region is subordinate to the Party Centre.