President Vladimir Putin has replaced the governor of northwestern Russia’s Vologda region in what observers see as the start of annual cadre changes ahead of key elections.
Late Tuesday, Putin signed an executive order “accepting the voluntary resignation” of Governor Oleg Kuvshinnikov and appointing Georgy Filimonov as Vologda's Acting Governor until the next regional elections, which are scheduled to take place in September 2024.
The Russian leader met with the two officials at the Kremlin as Kuvshinnikov's resignation was announced.
Kuvshinnikov, 58, had headed the Vologda region, located some 450 kilometers north of Moscow, since 2011. He was re-elected in 2019.
Pro-Kremlin activists in 2014 accused Kuvshinnikov of spending a record-setting 86 million rubles ($924,500) in state funds on charter flights.
In 2021, Kuvshinnikov authored an autobiography on the 10th anniversary of his tenure as Vologda's governor called “How to Become/Be a Governor and Stay Alive.”
Meanwhile, Filimonov, 43, had served as deputy governor of the Moscow region before Tuesday's appointment.
The reshuffle comes as Putin is soon expected to announce his re-election bid in next year's presidential election.
Widely criticized constitutional changes made in 2020 allow him to run for a fifth and sixth term in office.