Governors' purge. Who will lose post after elections? 

Governors' purge. Who will lose post after elections?
Up to 10 governors could lose their posts Photo: The CrimeRussia

Last year's wave of governors' resignations, which temporary termination was announced in November 2017 by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, will resume soon after March 18. The CrimeRussia figures out who will lose governor's seat.

The mass rotation of governors in the past year (during 2017, nearly two dozen heads of constituent entities of the Russian Federation were dismissed) will continue immediately after the March elections. Federation Council Chairwoman Valentina Matvienko told this in an interview with RBC in December 2017, noting that the resignations would be both planned and "for other reasons."

In February and early March, the forecast of the Head of the Council was confirmed by Kremlin sources of several mass media. Political scientists and the media vary only in the number and composition of the list of "the candidates for resignation". So, the edition, citing a source in the Presidential Administration, argues that the final list does not exist yet, and specific decisions on the next resignations would be taken after the elections. The Karaulny Telegram channel notes that statements on resignation have already been written by several governors.

The Kremlin and President Vladimir Putin consider the renewal of the governors' corps "an absolutely natural process." Replacing the corrupt ties between the political 'heavyweights' for young technocrats with experience of working in government bodies, Kremlin hangs hopes for the potential of appointees, who are able to realize them in the interests of development of the regions of the Russian Federation. According to Anna Fyodorova, the vice-president of the Open Society Institute and the National Endowment for Democracy, it is not so much about age as it is about the new political style, "new approaches to communicating with civil society". Head of the council of the Expert Institute for Social Research Gleb Kuznetsov considers this trend to be a part of the general course for the renewal of staff in the state administration, where the future is for "people with new business qualities, with modern views."

Thus, according to the experts of the analytical holding Minchenko Consulting, the Russian elite is preparing for a serious renewal and regrouping at the federal level, the peak of which will fall on 2021-2024.


Last year, personnel reshuffles at the governors' level affected 19 Russian regions. The first wave of regional heads' resignations took place in February, the second - in September-October 2017. In particular, governors Viktor Basargin (Perm Territory), Vyacheslav Nagovitsyn (Buryatia), Sergey Mitin (Novgorod Region), Alexander Khudilainen (Karelia) and Oleg Kovalev (Ryazan Region) left their posts in the winter. In the autumn, new regional heads came to Dagestan, Novosibirsk, Ivanovo, Omsk, Orel, Samara, Nizhny Novgorod, Pskov regions, Nenets Autonomous District, Primorsky and Krasnoyarsk Territory instead of Ramazan Abdulatipov, Vladimir Gorodetsky, Pavel Konkov, Viktor Nazarov, Vadim Posotsky, Nikolai Merkushkin, Valery Shantsev, Andrey Turchak, Igor Koshin, Vladimir Miklushevsky and Viktor Tolokonsky. Explaining the mass rotation, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on October 19, 2017 that a resihnation does not mean that he is dissatisfied with the work of the retired governors. Chairwoman of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko mentioned that many of the heads of regions could become senators, as they were able to work effectively with federal legislation.

According to Valentina Matvienko, the rotation of heads of regions whose powers would end soon would be the first, and they would not go for another term. According to the source of RBC, the Presidential Administration was guided by the same idea. First of all, the decisions, whether to change the head of the subject, concern the regions where elections are to be held this year.

"Other reasons" mentioned by the Chairwoman of the Federation Council may be very different. The St.Petersburg Policy Fund refers to the complex social and economic situation in the region as well as the conflicts of local elites as the basic prerequisites for the resignations of governors.

The formation of fairly clear criteria for the effectiveness of governors in the Presidential Administration in accordance with which personnel decisions would be made, was announced in February 2017.

According to the source of RBC in the Kremlin, when drawing up the criteria for the effectiveness of the Head of the region, in addition to the dynamics of the economic situation, electoral ratings and the presence of elites in the region, special attention would be paid to the corruption component. The attitude of the federal center to the corrupt officials in the regions was unambiguously demonstrated in April 2017 by the example of Head of Udmurtia Alexander Solovyov and 'Mari King' Leonid Markelov, who are defendants in criminal cases on corruption. In addition, the staff responsible for controlling the regions under the Presidential Administration's internal policy unit controlled by Deputy Head of the Kremlin administration Sergey Kiriyenko, are studying the VCIOM surveys, the FEOM georating and the sociological request of the region for renewal, as some subjects of the Russian Federation are ready to accept the 'Varangian', others are only able to perceive their 'manager', who is familiar with local realities and elites.

The President takes the decision to support specific governors after the formation of the initial list of candidates. The presence of elite support in the Kremlin, along with the age of the heads of regions, is singled out by political analyst Evgeny Minchenko. And his colleague Rostislav Turovsky believes that Kremlin support for the heads of regions and their age are interrelated. According to him, an analysis of previous dismissals of governors suggests that all the retirees were appointed a long time ago and they could not join the current system and find new patrons.

According to a source in the Kremlin administration, 68-year-old Governor of the Magadan region Vladimir Pechenyi, who was to be dismissed in the fall of 2017, and Head of the Khabarovsk Territory Vyacheslav Shport were enlisted out of the age.

In the second half of last year, Pechenyi sharply 'fell' in the national ranking of governors, after he initiated the inclusion of 'northern' wage surcharges in the composition of the minimum wage, which was not supported by the Ministry of Labor, but regained its position when proposed to make changes in the budget, transferring the profit of the extra-budgetary fund of the special economic zone to the social sector.


Vladimir Pechenyi

Another negative point, which Governor Vladimir Bescheny faces, is a high public debt of the region. The same problem is also actual in the region of another 'age’ candidate for elimination - 64-year-old Vyacheslav Shport. However, there are no other special complaints against Shport.


Vyacheslav Shport

According to political scientist Vitaly Ivanov, the Governor of the Khabarovsk Territory is in good standing with the Kremlin administration, although according to the rating of the influence of the governors, it is not true (51st place). Young (44 years old) Roman Kopin, who also appears in the shortlist of future retirees, could simply "get tired of Chukotka leadership."


Roman Kopin

An important role in the light of the upcoming personnel reshuffles is the reputation of the Head of the region in the information field. Conclusions about it in relation to personalities can be made on the ratings of Medialogia, Governor's agenda of the St. Petersburg Policy Fund, Davydov. Index, and the service Pravdaserm, which measures reputation based on data obtained from Google and Yandex search engines.

Scandals and conflict stories, connected with the heads of regions, that have received wide resonance in the media and social networks, have a serious impact on their further political career. An example of this is the negative aura of Governor of the Vladimir region Svetlana Orlova, the resignation of which is almost a foregone conclusion.


Svetlana Orlova

The term of office of Governor Orlova will soon expire. Polls show that the credit of trust that Svetlana Orlova certainly had in the first years of her governorship is almost exhausted. As the Nezygar Telegram channel notes, "the population and local elites are tired of the stubborn and unpredictable style of Orlova's leadership. Public cussing to subordinates, ill-conceived decisions, stubborn lobbying of inefficient projects, strange and spontaneous personnel policy, inexplicable performances, constant praise of her own activity - all this suck. Orlova could not find new industries and growth points for the development of the region. There are no large infrastructure projects for which serious investment and budgetary flows could be allocated, there are no new large productions, and those that advertise the regional authorities have very limited impact on the economy of the region as a whole."

The St. Petersburg Policy Foundation notes the protests of local residents about the Kirzhach incinerator project, the conflict over the construction of a new pig-breeding complex, and the dismissal of head of the regional Rosselkhoznadzor Vladimir Nagorny after the leakage of official investigation documents in connection with the discovery of antibiotics in PepsiCo products.

Notable spots on the reputation of the Head of the region are criminal cases against two vice-governors of the Vladimir region from the Orlova's team, both of whom are currently under house arrest for alleged corruption crimes. Sergey Filippov became a defendant of the criminal case of embezzlement of more than 230 million rubles ($4m) belonging to the Vladimirteplogaz heat supply organization as early as 2016, in June 2017 the criminal case case on charges of taking bribes was initiated against Vice-Governor Elena Mazanko, whom Orlova supported immediately after the detention of her deputy.

Another participant of the recent loud scandal is Head of Yakutia Egor Borisov. He became a figurant of the scandal on board of the Aeroflot company plane Moscow-Yakutia. Borisov flew with his wife and assistant Evgeny Shigapov.


Egor Borisov

According to representatives of Aeroflot, Borisov, his wife Praskovya and Shigapov arrived for a flight from Moscow to Yakutsk with a large number of packages and bags, refused to show boarding passes and insulted flight attendants, also negatively speaking about the airline. As a result, Borisov was not expelled from the voyage, but his assistant, who, according to Aeroflot, also behaved defiantly and aggressively, was. It is reported that Evgeny Shigapov even beat one of the stewardesses. The Governor of Yakutia, according to some information, also took part in the conflict, threatening the aircraft commander with dismissal, promising to call the Head of Rosaviation and the Minister of Transport. The Head of the Sakha Republic wrote later in his Instagram that he instructed the apparatus of the government of the republic to give a legal assessment of the actions of the crew and, if necessary, prepare a lawsuit. The incident was headlined – so Borisov joined the top ten for resignation.

It should be noted that the the decision of the federal center on Egor Borisov may also be affected by accusations of corruption from the public organization Yakutia - Our Opinion. Its leader Stepan Petrov believes that an organized criminal community headed by Egor Borisov operates in the republic and it has been trying to initiate criminal proceedings against the Head of the Sakha Republic, who, according to Petrov, is covered by local law enforcers. The health deterioration 'supports' his resignation. According to some reports, the Head of Yakutia had already wanted to apply for resignation for this reason in autumn last year.


Aman Tuleev

However, this unnamed candidate for health reasons may be the Head of the region, Aman Tuleev, who heads the Kuzbass for 20 years, who underwent a long rehabilitation course in the Moscow clinic in the summer of 2017 after a spinal surgery in Germany. 74-year-old Tuleev also enters the 'age' list. In November 2016, several leading officials of the Kemerovo region were at the center of a corruption scandal. On suspicion of extortion of shares in the Inskoy mine there were detained vice-governors of Kuzbass Alexey Ivanov and Alexander Danilchenko, as well as Head of the regional ICR General Sergey Kalinkin. In February 2018, First Deputy Governor Vladimir Chernov resigned. As reported by The CrimeRussia, his resignation may be related to the investigation of the FSB of three criminal cases related to the bankruptcy of the Anzherskaya-Yuzhnaya mine. The fact that Tuleev's resignation is a resolved issue is also evidenced by the recent appointment of Kolmar coal mining company head Sergey Tsivilev as Deputy Governor of Kuzbass. According to political technologist Gleb Pavlovsky, "Tuleev's upcoming resignation will entail a transition period, in which Tsivilev appears to be the optimal candidate for leading the region."

Meanwhile, political analyst Andrey Kolyadin believes that the spring list of governors-retirees can be increased from five to eight people. 

Maybe it's even wider. Governor of the Moscow region Andrey Vorobyev could leave his post against the backdrop of environmental scandals and inter-departmental conflicts and join the Ministry of Defense.  


Andrey Vorobyev

Back in late September 2017, Minchenko Consulting reported a risk of resignation of the heads in 66 Russian regions, of which 15 - with a high degree of risk. Undoubtedly calling all those heads of regions who left as a result of the fall governors' purge, experts also named Head of St.Petersburg Georgy Poltavchenko, Governor of the Murmansk region Marina Kovtun (who is supported by Head of Kalmykia Alexey Orlov), Head of Kalmykia Alexey Orlov and heads of the Altai and Altai region Alexander Berdnikov and Alexander Karlin (65 and 67 years old respectively). It remains to be seen who will resign. 



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