MOSCOW, April 15 (Itar-Tass) — Last Friday Kostroma region governor Igor Slyunyaev voluntarily resigned. His term in office should have expired only in October. Long before political scientists forecast that governors of those regions which failed to ensure victory to United Russia at the parliamentary elections will be dismissed. While the State Duma discusses a law on governor elections, the country’s authorities continue to replace weak governors who voted down the parliamentary and presidential election.
Igor Slyunyaev became the eighth governor who stepped down after the State Duma elections, Novye Izvestiya reported. United Russia got only 34.2 percent in the Kostroma region he controlled. The daily recalled that earlier governors of Arkhangelsk, Vologda, Volgograd, Saratov, Murmansk, Moscow regions and the Primorye Territory left their positions.
Political scientists believe that urgent resignations of regional heads are connected with the return of direct elections for regional governors. Dismissing senior officials unpopular among the population and replacing them with loyal people, the authorities are trying to prevent politicians from opposition to gain power in regions during another five years.
For Kostroma Slyunyaev was a rather aggressive outsider who failed to win sympathies of local elites and tried to strongly control public and economic processes, Novye Izvestiya cited political scientist Rostislav Turovsky as saying. “Slyunyaev was not the last man in the list of governors and had rather good relations with the centre, therefore election-related reasons played a key role in his resignation. The Kremlin decided not to risk,” he said.
Slyunyaev’s resignation was welcomed in Kostroma and even fireworks were set off in the city centre, Kommersant wrote. “The city’s Internet is overloaded as on New Year’s Day,” a local MP, Viktor Yemets, told the daily. “The city rejoices. People have hope that a person who really will work will come.”
However, political scientist Alexander Kynev describes local residents’ joy as “premature”: if a governor had worked until his term in office expired, the region would have the direct governor elections. “Even if all filters are used, Slyunyaev would for sure lose the race,” the expert said. “But the Kremlin has a phobia, they fear elections. If they had an opportunity, they would reappoint everyone not to have the elections for another five years.” Kynev expressed an opinion that those regions, where the authorities have the risk of losing the elections, will face resignations. Governors whose terms in office expire this year may also find themselves in a risk group.