In Russia, an unusual wave of resignations by regional governors has caused a stir. On Tuesday, a total of five regional heads in different parts of the country announced within a few hours that they would either resign or not seek re-election. The first to announce their resignations were Sergey Schwachkin from Tomsk, Siberia, and his colleague Igor Vasilyev from Kirov, around 1,000 kilometers north-east of Moscow.
Then came the heads of Saratov and the Autonomous Republic of Mari El. The governor of the Ryazan region, Nikolai Lyubimov, said he did not want to run for a second term. Altogether, Russia consists of more than 80 so-called federal subjects – these are, for example, regions and autonomous republics. One of the official reasons given by the individual governors for their resignations was their age or they referred to quite long terms in office that were already behind them.
Amazement and speculation
For many citizens, however, the wave of resignations caused astonishment and also speculation. Several users of the Telegram news service wondered whether the regional heads might no longer want to support the war against Ukraine that has been going on for two and a half months and the economic consequences for Russia’s provinces. Many companies have withdrawn from Russia as a result of Western sanctions. People are losing their jobs en masse.
In the current situation, this wave could be a sign that the ship was about to capsize and that the “rats would probably prefer to disembark,” said political scientist Abbas Galljamov. Others speculated that the five politicians might not have been loyal enough to the Kremlin and now have to vacate their posts on a decision from the top.
Some people expressed concern that President Vladimir Putin might plan partial mobilization in the affected regions to intensify the stagnant fighting in Ukraine. They argued that it could be that the governors did not want to take responsibility for the resentment that then arose in the population. However, there was initially no evidence for these assumptions.