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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Governors Risk Loss of Party List Places

The United Russia leadership has floated the idea of removing unpopular governors from the top of its regional party lists ahead of State Duma elections in December, while the Kremlin is reportedly considering removing some governors from office ahead of the vote.

Andrei Vorobyov, head of United Russia's central committee, said Friday that the body would closely examine the results of recent regional elections, held March 11, when deciding whether to put governors at the top of the pro-Kremlin party's lists in their regions for the December poll.

"We are proceeding from the fact that our regional lists should be headed by respected and worthy people," Vorobyov said. "If you are managing a region successfully, if your approval ratings are high, then that's one story."

"But if you are a loser, that is another story. By all means, the results of the elections will be taken into consideration," he added. "If they were a loss, we should find out why."

Meanwhile, the Kremlin is putting together a list of governors who might be ousted ahead of the elections, Gazeta reported Friday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied Friday that any such list existed and said he had no information about any governors who might be close to losing their jobs.

But two Kremlin-connected analysts said such lists could exist in some form or other. They said the inability to deliver good results for United Russia in regional votes or to solve serious problems in their regions could see governors shown the door.

"So far, governors have been replaced with one aim: to put pressure on them and show them that membership in United Russia or the approval of the president won't save them if they can't secure a United Russia victory at the polls," said Mikhail Vinogradov, head of the Center for Political Environment Studies.

Sergei Markov, head of the Institute of Political Studies said there was a "list of figures who were being watched closely" as candidates for dismissal but that there was no list of governors sure to be fired.

Among governors in shaky positions, Vinogradov and Markov listed the Samara region's Konstantin Titov, Karelia's Sergei Katanandov, Karachayevo-Cherkessia's Mustafa Batdiyev, Nikolai Maksyuta of the Volgograd region, the Perm region's Oleg Chirkunov, the Chita region's Ravil Geniatulin, the Arkhangelsk region's Nikolai Kiselyov, Khakasia's Alexei Lebed and the Stavropol region's Alexander Chernogorov.

Titov seemed a likely candidate for dismissal once he told his staff that he would resign in the near future after a meeting Tuesday with presidential administration head Sergei Sobyanin, Vedomosti and Gazeta reported late last week.

Vedomosti cited sources close to Titov, while Gazeta cited no sources. Both newspapers said Sobyanin took Titov to task for United Russia's poor results in the most recent regional and federal elections.

Titov dismissed talk of his departure Thursday, Interfax reported.

Both Peskov and Lyudmila Takoyeva, Titov's spokeswoman, confirmed that Sobyanin and Titov had met.

But Takoyeva denied that past election results were discussed, saying the discussion was only of preparations for the upcoming vote for the Duma.

Peskov, meanwhile, denied that elections were discussed at all.

The Volgograd region's Maksyuta was in Moscow for a meeting with presidential administration officials at the end of last week, his spokeswoman Olga Trofimova said by telephone from Volgograd on Friday.

"He is very optimistic," Trofimova said. "Recently, [First Deputy Prime Minister] Sergei Ivanov visited us, and we could see his positive reaction to what was happening in the region," she said.

Under powers he gained as a result of a 2005 law, President Vladimir Putin has fired three governors: Leonid Korotkov of the Amur region; Vladimir Loginov, of the Koryak autonomous district; and Alexei Barinov, of the Nenets autonomous district.