Who is next? Putin continues ‘serial’ replacements of Governors

Who is next? Putin continues ‘serial’ replacements of Governors
Vladimir Putin accepted the resignation of Vyacheslav Nagovitsyn, Governor of the Republic of Buryatia Photo: The Press Service of the President of Russia

Karelia might be ‘next in line’ after the Perm region and Buryatia.

On Tuesday, Vladimir Putin has accepted the resignation of Vyacheslav Nagovitsyn, the Governor of the Republic of Buryatia, who had held this post for almost 10 years. The President has appointed 40-year-old Deputy Minister of Transport Aleksey Tsydenov the Acting Head of the Republic. This is the second gubernatorial resignation this week: on Monday, the Head of the Perm region has been replaced.

Buryatia is an uneasy region; the situation there is stalemate. According to a source close to the Kremlin, the Presidential Administration has been monitoring it for a while and possible replacement of the Governor had been discussed in the period when Vyacheslav Volodin was the curator of the domestic policy. The source notes that reinstatement of elections in a ‘non-structured republic’ creates additional issues for the political supervisors: the conflict between the regional elites and overall fatigue with Nagovitsyn are further compounded by the presence of a strong candidate from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation – Vyacheslav Markhaev.

The source explains that the “person who had completely discredited himself” has been replaced because “it is easier to embed new hopes” into a new leader. “Should Nagovitsyn stay in power, the ‘Irkutsk scenario’ (victory of an opposition leader over the sitting Governor – Vedomosti) could repeat itself in a more tough and traumatic way,” – a former federal functionary agrees. The web site of the Buryat Branch of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation states that the federal center has replaced Nagovitsyn because of its fear of Markhaev who has a “colossal support”, while a “person unknown in Buryatia” has been chosen because he does not have any negative rating.

Tsydenov is an ethnic Buryat – but he was born in the Zabaikalsky region and has made a career in Moscow; therefore, the Buryat elites consider him an outsider, political expert Vitaly Ivanov states. He has to deal with issues common for all ‘outsiders’ – settle in the region, establish links with the local elite, create a team, get rid of old personnel, etc.

Earlier the sources of Vedomosti had predicted at least five upcoming gubernatorial resignations. According to two people close to the Kremlin, chances are high that Aleksander Khudilainen, the Head of Karelia, would be among them. 40-year-old Ivan Valentik, a native of Petrozavodsk and Head of the Federal Forestry Agency of the Russian Federation, is considered a candidate for the replacement. A Deputy of the State Duma had also heard about a candidate from the Federal Forestry Agency. Emilia Slabunova, a Deputy of the Legislative Assembly of the Republic of Karelia and Chairman of Yabloko Party, says that the talks about Valentik had started in November–December, but then other candidates have been named, including Andrei Galyamov, Head of the Administration for the Republic of Karelia of the Federal Bailiffs Service. According to Slabunova, there were also speculations that someone close to a financial–industrial group, for instance, to Sistema Joint Stock Financial Corporation having interests in the forestry industry, would be appointed the new Governor. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation had no information in this regard, but a source there said that this is possible, taking the background of Valentik.

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