After the information about the soon-to-take-place resignation of the Samara Governor there appeared an unofficial refutation of this.
A source in the Presidential Administration for domestic policy said that there would not be the resignation of Governor of the Samara region Nikolay Merkushkin. Kommersant reports this. At the same time, a source of the publication in state agencies said that the resignation would take place, moreover, a replacement of him had already been picked up. The new head of the region, according to the source, will be State Duma deputy from United Russia (Edinaya Rossiya) Vladimir Gutenev. Back in October of last year it became known that he was lobbied to this post by state corporation Rostekh, where Gutenev worked as the adviser to the general director before joining the parliament. The source of the publication claimed that his candidacy had already been approved.
A few days ago a number of media outlets reported that the Kremlin had made a final decision on the dismissal of Merkushkin, which could happen the next week.
One of the reasons for this was dissatisfaction with high protest activity in the region. Another reason is the conflict between Merkushkin and head of Rostekh Sergey Chemezov. Although it was him who took Merkushkin to politics.
At the same time the publication claims that current Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Sergey Kiriyenko argues against the change of Merkushkin. He believes that the latter is still able to provide the necessary result in the elections, since it was him with whom a well-established election mechanism appeared in the region. In the last parliamentary elections held in September last year, United Russia won 50.77% of the votes in the region, while in the previous Duma elections, when the region was headed by Vladimir Artyakov, the party got only 39.1%. Merkushkin himself enjoyed a landslide in the Governor's election in 2014 – 91,35% of the region's residents gave their votes to him.
Political scientist Rostislav Turovsky believes that with the change of Merkushkin stakes are high that in the presidential elections of 2018 the region may witness not only a low turnout for the polling stations, but also a very low percentage of votes for the candidate the Kremlin needs. Nevertheless, Moscow may decide to replace the Governor. Everything will depend on whether the attacks on Merkushkin continue. Including in the form of popular protests, which can change the agenda from anti-corruption to anti-gubernatorial. On March 26, as in many regions of the country, the Meeting Against Corruption took place in Samara, and local communists took part in it. According to Turovsky, next time other systemic political forces can join them.
At the same time, political analyst Abbas Gallyamov believes that Merkushkin's resignation is beneficial to the President. According to him, Putin will win without the help of the Governor of the Samara region, but by removing the unpopular governor he will only raise his rating.
Nikolay Merkushkin was appointed Governor of the Samara region in 2012. In 2014 he prematurely vacated the office to be elected for the second term. Previously he had been heading the Republic of Mordovia for 17 years.
His reign was repeatedly accompanied by scores of scandals. For instance, the media reported that in the period from 2012 to 2015 part of the public funds allocated for capital repairs of buildings, infrastructure facilities and roads was spent on the improvement of the governor's residence, located in prestigious Zolotaya Milya (Golden Mile) district on the very bank of the Volga near Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure.
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