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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Looks to Ignite Volga Growth

Itar-TassPresident Vladimir Putin touring Ulyanovsk with Governor Vladimir Shamanov, left, and Volga presidential envoy Sergei Kiriyenko.
President Vladimir Putin made a whirlwind trip through the Volga region, urging governors to shore up their economies and suggesting that there should be a way to remove those who failed to do so.

"Plainly, the [economic] potential has been badly used so far," Putin said Monday at a meeting with Volga Federal District governors in the Mordovian capital Saransk.

"Most of the regions in this district rank from 50th to 70th place among Russia's regions in the volume of investment attracted," Putin said.

Reiterating remarks made earlier this year, Putin said he would like to see a mechanism created for the removal of governors who lead their regions into economic crises. "There should also be a mechanism for federal authorities to regulate such crisis," Putin said.

He called for a better dialogue between regional and federal authorities.

Putin has received a number of public complaints in recent weeks about how regional authorities run their domains. Several reporters brought allegations of corruption to Putin's attention at a news conference June 24. During a visit to the flood-stricken south, residents complained about a lack of action from local authorities.

However, in Ulyanovsk, which is considered one of the poorest regions and where Putin kicked off his Volga trip Sunday, Putin said there was no one left to be fired. Governor Vladimir Shamanov was elected last year when the region was already in bad shape.

Meanwhile, Putin used the trip to stump for populist issues. He criticized the Cabinet for failing to protect local producers, particularly car makers, and called for a reduction in alcohol and cigarettes ads to protect youth.

He also promised that the regions would have a say in energy sector reforms.

"This is why the [State Duma] readings of the bills on reforming the energy sector have been moved to the fall," Putin said Monday.