On Wednesday, November 18, in the morning, the head of the Republic of Mordovia, Vladimir Volkov, unexpectedly announced his resignation. In the evening, President Vladimir Putin accepted his resignation and appointed Artyom Zdunov, Chairman of the Government of Dagestan, as Acting Head of the Republic. At the same time, the President appointed Vyacheslav Gladkov, the head of the staff of the Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Stavropol Territory, as Acting Governor of the Belgorod Region. Kommersant’s sources and experts believe that the resignation of Vladimir Volkov will not be the last in the current political cycle: several more governors may lose their posts before the elections to the State Duma next fall.
Head of Mordovia Vladimir Volkov announced his resignation on Wednesday morning. In the evening, Vladimir Putin accepted the resignation of Mr. Volkov and appointed the acting head of the republic, the chairman of the government of Dagestan, Artem Zdunov.
Mr. Volkov has headed Mordovia since 2012, when he was approved as the head of the republic by the deputies of the State Assembly. In 2017, he won direct elections. His powers expired in 2022.
Kommersant’s interlocutors disagree about the reasons for the resignation of Vladimir Volkov.
A Kommersant source in the Presidential Administration claims that recently the republic has been torn apart by conflicts between Mr. Volkov’s entourage and the clan of his predecessor Nikolai Merkushkin. As a result, it was decided to appoint an external manager, so that “people start to do work, not intrigue and division.” At the same time, a well-informed source of Kommersant close to the Presidential Administration claims that the head of the region left because of health problems. According to Kommersant’s sources in the administration of the head of the republic, he tried to resign twice already – immediately after the 2018 FIFA World Cup and at the beginning of this year. However, the AP allegedly refused him. Now, according to the interlocutor of Kommersant, his health has worsened (Vladimir Volkov is 66 years old). Another source of Kommersant in the Mordovian administration did not rule out that the resignation of Vladimir Volkov was the result of difficulties in the fight against COVID-19: literally on Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova included Mordovia in the top ten regions with the maximum bed capacity. In addition, as of October 1, the republic’s public debt amounted to 50 billion rubles. with revenues of 56.5 billion rubles, half of which are federal subsidies.
Acting Head of Mordovia Artem Zdunov 42 years old, he comes from Tatarstan: since 2010 – Deputy Minister of Economy of the Republic, since 2014 – Minister. In 2018, the head of Dagestan, Vladimir Vasiliev, appointed Mr Zdunov as prime minister. After that, many significant posts in the republic were received by immigrants from Tatarstan, and local media began to reproach Artyom Zdunov for lobbying the interests of fellow countrymen. Mr. Vasiliev himself notes that during the time of Mr. Zdunov’s work in Dagestan, the budget of the republic has grown from 100 to 180 billion rubles. Mr. Zdunova is connected with Mordovia by ethnic origin; in addition, he is a graduate of the RANEPA Graduate School of Public Administration, which in recent years has been considered the forge of governors.
51-year-old acting head of the Belgorod region Vyacheslav Gladkov is also a graduate of the “school of governors” of the RANEPA, he is a native of the Penza region.
Since 2009, he headed the administration of ZATO Zarechny. There is the enterprise of “Rosatom” – SPC “Start”. Since 2013, the head of the state corporation’s department for work with the regions was Alexander Kharichev, now the head of the presidential department for ensuring the activities of the State Council. In 2016, Mr. Gladkov was appointed chairman of the government of Sevastopol and deputy governor of the city for internal policy. He became the chief of staff, deputy chairman of the government of the Stavropol Territory in 2018. Irreplaceable for the last 27 years, the head of the Belgorod region, Yevgeny Savchenko, resigned and moved to the Federation Council on September 22. His seat remained vacant for almost two months. And about. The governor was appointed first deputy governor five days before the resignation of Denis Butsaev. Mr. Butsaev, according to Kommersant, is counting on a new appointment, which will be announced in the near future.
Kommersant’s sources do not exclude that the resignation of the head of Mordovia, Vladimir Volkov, will not be the last on the eve of the Duma elections. Soon after the regional elections in September, Kommersant’s sources presented different versions of the fate of the governor’s corps. Kommersant’s interlocutors in the Presidential Administration argued that they did not want to greatly increase the number of governor’s campaigns, which would have to be carried out simultaneously with the Duma elections, but that the heads of the regions, who “lost the public’s confidence,” could part with their posts.
Before the resignation of the heads of the Belgorod region and Mordovia, direct gubernatorial elections in 2021 were scheduled only in six regions, the heads of three more regions must be elected by their parliaments. Now direct elections will be held in eight regions.
In addition, according to informed interlocutors of Kommersant, the fate of the head of the Ulyanovsk region, Sergei Morozov, and the governor of the Krasnoyarsk region, Alexander Uss, may be in question.
The mandate of the former will just expire in 2021. Alexander Uss, according to Kommersant’s interlocutors, “is not all right with the rating” and he is losing “political control over the territory.” The situation, according to one of Kommersant’s interlocutors, is further complicated by the fact that the governor will not be able to lead the regional list of United Russia in the elections to the State Duma: “He is unpopular, but there are no other leaders.” An informed source of Kommersant who is familiar with the situation in the region claims that MMC Norilsk Nickel is opposed to Mr. Uss, but the governor enjoys the support of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Alexander Uss’s term expires only in 2023, and, according to sources, this plays in his favor. One of Kommersant’s sources close to the Presidential Administration also claims that the fate of the head of Khakassia, communist Valentin Konovalov, may be decided in the near future: an extremely unfavorable epidemic situation has developed in the republic. However, a number of Kommersant’s interlocutors close to the Presidential Administration believe that Mr. Konovalov will retain his post: it will be beneficial for United Russia if the communist evokes more and more negative emotions from voters. Kommersant’s interlocutors find it difficult to name the exact terms of “political decisions” on the resignation of governors.
As Mikhail Vinogradov, head of the Petersburg Politics Foundation, explained to Kommersant, there was no obvious reason for Vladimir Volkov’s early resignation: “Mordovia is not a showcase region as it was in the 2000s, but in many respects it is more advanced than lagging behind. She was presented with a large external debt, but everyone understood that it was formed partly under Merkushkin, partly during the World Cup. ” Natalya Zubarevich, professor of the Faculty of Geography of Moscow State University, agrees with him: “The state debt has been huge for five years, while this year Mordovia has reduced it by 2%. From the point of view of the budget, the worst situation is in Yamal, but they are not going to change the governor there ”. Political analyst Yevgeny Minchenko did not rule out that this resignation may be followed by others: “Vladimir Sipyagin and Valentin Konovalov are in the risk zone. Both have a bad situation with the coronavirus. “