Four Russian regional governors resigned on Tuesday as the country braces for the impact of economic sanctions.
The heads of the Tomsk, Saratov, Kirov and Mari El regions announced their immediate departure from office, while the head of the Ryazan region said he would not stand for another term.
Elections are scheduled in all five regions in September.
Although Russian regional governors are elected, they are politically subordinate to the Kremlin. Several of the incumbent governors represent areas where the ruling United Russia bloc received low vote shares in last year’s parliamentary elections.
Unpopular governors are regularly removed from office, often submitting their resignations in clusters in the spring.
Ilya Grashchenkov, head of the Center for Regional Policy Development think tank in Moscow, said the Kremlin was removing weak governors amid deteriorating economic prospects for the country, driven by Western sanctions.
Grashchenkov said: “There is a need to restructure the economy, especially in regions where Western economic influence has been significant. These governors must be replaced by younger alternatives.
The Russian economy is expected to contract by 8.8% in 2022, the economy ministry said.