This year, the elections of heads of regions will be held in 21 regions. As a rule, they are not of great interest due to the lack of real competition. The main reason for this is the "municipal filter". The need to collect a large number of signatures of municipal leaders and deputies, stifles competition, since there are few places where the opposition can overcome the filter on its own, without the help of United Russia and regional administrations. As a result, the main regional elections tend to be very tranquil, much like a graveyard.
However, under a closer look, one may see some spectres haunting this political cemetery — the spectres of political conflicts and crises. The calmness of the authorities turns out to be imaginary, there is growing discontent in the regional communities, which every so often breaks out in the electoral plane.
The fact that the vast majority of regions, where the heads are to be elected, coincides with the similar list from 2018, sets a special tone for the current elections. Then the authorities unexpectedly encountered a protest vote, which resulted in their actually losing the gubernatorial elections in four regions. In one of them, Khakassia, the then-victorious communist governor will be facing a serious challenge — to get re-elected in a bitter struggle with the Kremlin's candidate.
In other regions, the authorities, as it would seem, managed to curb the immediate threat through agreements with political parties. But the real political situation in many regions is such that in a real campaign, "administrative" candidates would have a high chance of losing.
This report focuses on the process of nominating candidates for the elections of senior officials of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation on a single voting day on September 10, 2023. In all regions, except for the Altai Krai, this stage has ended. In the Altai Krai, it ends on July 29.
This is the second report prepared by the Golos movement within the framework of the current election campaign. The previous one concerned the legal specifics of the elections.
Governor elections in 2023 are held in 21 regions of the country. A summary of nominations can be seen in Table 1.
Table 1. Nomination of Candidates for Elections of Highest Officials of Constituent Entities of the Russian Federation
The table shows that in terms of the number of candidates nominated this year the leaders were United Russia, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and the Liberal Democratic Party — they put forward their candidacies in 20 out of 21 regions.
The LDPR does not participate only in the elections of the governor of the Amur region, but since 2018 the representative of the LDPR has been a senator from the head of the region there. For this party, such a high proportion of participation is quite common — in 2022 they nominated 13 candidates in 14 regions, in 2021 — seven in nine, in 2020 — 16 out of 18. However, the party does not always put forward really strong candidates. For example, in the elections of the heads of the Primorsky Krai, Smolensk and Novosibirsk regions this year, only deputies of the city parliaments of the administrative centers of the respective regions were nominated. In Kuzbass, the party nominated a deputy of the regional parliament of the neighboring Tomsk region, and in Yakutia — an assistant to a deputy of the State Duma.
The CPRF also tries to almost always participate in elections, although it does not overcome the “municipal filter” every time trying: in 2022 they nominated candidates in 13 out of 14 regions, in 2021 — in all nine, in 2020 — in 16 out of 18. This time the Communist Party skips the elections in one region: in Primorsky Krai, the regional branch of the party decided to boycott them after 64% of the PECs in Vladivostok were left without representatives of the Communist Party during the reorganization of election commissions this spring. In addition, in the Pskov region, Alexander Baev, who had already been nominated, unexpectedly withdrew his candidacy due to “poor health”. However, the Communist Party quickly found another candidate. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation could have nominated stronger candidates in Yakutia, Amur, Kemerovo, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Samara and Smolensk regions. This is especially true of Yakutia, where the party has an acting State Duma deputy in the republic's only single-mandate constituency, Petr Ammosov, as well as the Novosibirsk region, where the elected mayor of Novosibirsk, Anatoly Lokot, has abstained from running for the seat of the head of the region for the second time.
For United Russia, such blanket participation, on the contrary, is extremely atypical — in all previous years, part of the “administrative” candidates went to the polls as self-nominated candidates. Formally, in 2022, United Russia did not field its candidates in two regions, in 2021 — in three, in 2020 — in six. This time the party misses only the elections in the Oryol region, where the Kremlin backed the incumbent communist governor Andrey Klychkov. Especially revealing is the nomination of Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin by United Russia, who in all previous elections tried to distance himself from the party brand and campaigned as an independent candidate. The nomination of the head of Primorye Oleg Kozhemyako from United Russia is also noteworthy — in 2018, for his benefit, the amendments were specifically made to regional legislation on the possibility of self-nomination. Less than five years later, in the spring of 2023, self-nomination in the region was cancelled again.
A Just Russia – For Truth is noticeably lagging behind this trio, in 2023 it did not nominate its candidates in six regions at once: in Yakutia, Nizhny Novgorod, Omsk, Oryol, Pskov and Smolensk regions. This is the highest rate of refusal of the Just Russia to participate in elections since at least 2018. In 2022, they skipped three campaigns out of 14, in 2021 — two out of nine, in 2020 — two out of 18. Moreover, in Yakutia, the party has a very strong candidate — State Duma deputy Fedot Tumusov, who in 2021 was quite close to victory in the only single-mandate constituency in the republic, and the Omsk region was headed by the representative of A Just Russia Alexander Burkov as recently as this spring. It is likely that the refusal to participate is largely due to Sergei Mironov's getting too close with Yevgeny Prigozhin, who just at the start of the election campaign staged an unsuccessful mutiny attempt. At least in Yakutia, Fedot Tumusov directly linked the party's refusal to participate in the elections to this, pointing to "unprecedented pressure" from the Russian presidential administration. The formal reason for refusing to participate in the election of the head of the Nizhny Novgorod region was the gratitude of the party to the governor of the region for the help provided after the party member Yevgeny (Zakhar) Prilepin was wounded during an assassination attempt when in the region. The refusal to participate in the elections in the Oryol region was explained by the party as having to do with the dishonesty of the elections, numerous violations and falsifications. In the Pskov region, the party supported the incumbent head of United Russia. There were no clear explanations in the Omsk and Smolensk regions. Where the party has put forward its candidates, the nominations also raise questions. For example, the "parliamentary" party nominated a blue-collar worker for the governorship of the Voronezh region. In Primorsky Krai, the party is represented by Kirill Rudyuk, who lost even the election of city deputies in Vladivostok in his district, and in the Novosibirsk Region — by an entrepreneur, who three years ago could not get elected as a regional deputy from United Russia.
A Just Russia is generally in a clear state of crisis due to the excessive and reckless enthusiasm of the federal leadership for militant rhetoric. In the first half of 2023 alone, there were several high-profile scandals: in St. Petersburg, an entire faction in the city parliament left the party, in Astrakhan, the well-known politician Oleg Shein left the post of head of the regional branch, in Transbaikalia the party itself dispersed an entire, and quite strong, regional branch.
Among other parties, conspicuous is the fact that the fifth "parliamentary" party — the New People all but refused to participate in the gubernatorial elections. The party put forward its candidates in only six regions, and did not nominate anyone in Yakutia, where it has a particularly strong position, as well as in regions which at the same time hold elections to the representative bodies of the constituent entities of the federation or their administrative centers. In Khakassia, where in 2021 the party received a result much higher than the national average (9%) in the elections of State Duma deputies, the New People also chose not to run in the elections — on March 31, 2023, the former head of the party's regional department, Valery Ilyashchuk, became Acting Deputy Head of the Head's Office Republic of Khakassia curating the domestic policy.
Even the Communists of Russia (spoilers of the Communist Party) take part in the elections more actively than the New People. They nominated their representatives in nine regions. As a rule, these are regions where the positions of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation are especially strong: Sakha (Yakutia), Khakassia, Altai and Primorsky Krai, Novosibirsk and Omsk Regions, etc. The example of Khakassia is especially revealing, where the Communists of Russia put up a candidate named Grudinin against the governor from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.
In four regions (Yakutia, Altai and Primorsky Krai, as well as the Smolensk Region), candidates from the Pensioners' Party also came forward to "help" them scavenge the votes of the CPRF electorate. In addition to these four regions, the Party of Pensioners put forward its candidate also in the Nizhny Novgorod region.
The rest of the parties either do not participate in the elections at all, or put forward their candidates in a small number of regions. There are Rodina candidates in six regions (Yakutia, Khakassia, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Voronezh, Pskov and Smolensk regions). Four candidates were put forward by the Greens (Yakutia, Altai and Krasnoyarsk Krai, as well as the Oryol Region). The following parties nominated one candidate each —the Party of Growth (Pskov Region), the Democratic Party of Russia (Samara Region), the Civilian Power (Nizhny Novgorod Region), the Russian All-People's Union (Oryol Region), the Civic Platform (Yakutia), the Cossack Party (Primorsky Territory), the Civic Initiative (Moscow Region), the Party of Russia’s Rebirth (Moscow) and the Green Alternative (Altai Krai).
Self-nominated candidates tried to take part in the elections of the heads of two regions — Moscow and the Omsk region. In other regions, this is not provided for by law.
The rest of the political parties did not put forward a single candidate. Particularly noteworthy is Yabloko. In Moscow, Sergei Mitrokhin refused to participate in the elections right during the nomination conference. As a reason, Mitrokhin himself stated, that he was ready to participate in the elections only with an anti-militarist agenda, but he was sure that a candidate with such rhetoric would not be registered for the elections. In the Pskov region, Yabloko has a familiar face — Lev Shlosberg, but on June 16, 2023, at the very start of the election campaign, he was declared a "foreign agent" by the Russian Ministry of Justice. At the same time, back in December 2022, Schlosberg told the media that the party did not plan to take part in the 2023 gubernatorial election.
Thus, only four out of 27 parties (less than 15% — this figure is even lower than in 2022, when elections were held in only 14 regions) actively participate in the elections of heads of regions (in more than half of the regions), and this number does not include one of the "parliamentary" parties — the New People. In most cases, the participation of representatives of political parties in the gubernatorial elections is clearly an imitation containing all the signs of a political collusion.
Not accounting for the replacement of a candidate in the Pskov region, the elections of 21 heads of the region in 2023 saw 124 nominated candidates, or an average of 5.2 per region. This is the lowest figure since at least 2018. In 2022, it was at 6.3 candidates per region, and in 2018, when the list of elections almost coincided with the one this year, it reached 7.8 candidates (see Figure 1). Only in 2021 was this figure close to the current level. That year there were few elections of heads of regions, and political parties chose to focus their resources on the elections of deputies of the State Duma that were held at the same time.
The lowest number of candidates (four for each) were nominated in the Kemerovo, Magadan, Tyumen regions and Chukotka. The highest (12) — in Moscow.
However, in the gubernatorial elections, the number of nominated candidates says little about real competition. The experience of previous years shows that by 4-5 candidates per region get past the “municipal filter”. And in the overwhelming majority of cases, the competitors of the incumbent are hand-picked props with no intent to actively campaign.
Another feature of this year's gubernatorial campaigns is the relatively small number of early resignations of regional heads. On March 15, 2023, the head of Chukotka resigned, on March 17 — the head of the Smolensk region, on March 29 — the head of the Omsk region, on April 20 — the head of the Krasnoyarsk Krai. In three regions, gubernatorial elections would have been held in 2023 anyway, but in the Smolensk region the elections were not planned for this year. However, the governor Aleksei Ostrovsky was a representative of the Liberal Democratic Party and, it seems, was largely propped up by the sponsorship of Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who died last year.
Thus, early resignations affected only four regions out of the 21 where gubernatorial elections will be held in September — this is only 19% (see Figure 2). In previous years, the figure was much higher. So, in 2017, 70% of the heads of the regions in which elections were held that year resigned early, in 2018 — 73%, in 2019 — 79%. Only in the pandemic year of 2020, when uncertainty reigned, did this share amount to less than 50%, but already in 2021 it increased to 67%. The beginning of the military conflict with Ukraine again slowed down the “self-renewal” a little. In 2022, in 14 regions where direct gubernatorial elections took place, the Kremlin appointed eight interim heads of regions (57%).
In 2023, the share of replacements remains the lowest in a decade. However, most of the governors re-elected this year served only their first term. The only exceptions are Sergei Sobyanin in Moscow and Andrei Vorobyov in the Moscow region.
The Russian authorities are very fond of changing the heads of regions before the end of their term of office. This undermines the voters’ ability to express their attitude towards the policy conducted by the retired governors during their entire term. The policy basically "resets". But, probably, in the conditions of foreign policy turbulence and on the eve of the presidential elections, the Kremlin decided not to get the regional elites and bureaucracy flurried for no good reason.
2.1. The Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)
The current campaign could be very difficult for the current head, although in the previous elections in 2018, Aisen Nikolaev won 71.4% of the vote, far ahead of his competitors. However, the Civic Platform, while already into the campaign, withdrew its candidate Ernst Berezkin, who in the previous elections came in second with 29.5% of the vote (this is one of the best results for an opposition candidate since the return of direct gubernatorial elections). State Duma deputy Fedot Tumusov (A Just Russia) did not participate in the elections either. All this looked like a behind-the-scenes agreement of the main participants.
Since then, the situation seems to have only gotten worse. Aisen Nikolaev actively built relations with the federal center, but clearly neglected the regional agenda. For example, he ignored the forest fires of 2021 in Yakutia for a long time. For several days he did not return to the republic from Tatarstan, where he participated in the Days of Yakutia. Those fires destroyed an entire village in the Vilyuisk ulus.
Another painful topic was the construction of a bridge across river Lena. The city of Yakutsk is the only settlement in the Russian Federation from the 100 largest ones that does not have year-round access to the federal road network. As a result, there is no stable connection between the eastern and western parts of Yakutia in autumn and spring. This leads to a gap in transport accessibility for 62.1% of the region's population. Aisen Nikolaev announced the construction of the bridge back in 2018, but it was never started.
The topic of high housing and utilities tariffs and frequent accidents at energy facilities remains a problem.
Yakutsk in September 2022 was also marked by one of the largest protests in the country against the mobilization. On September 25, 400 women (in a city of 360,000) under the guise of holding a women's osuokhay (national circular dance) took to an uncoordinated action. The rally was quickly suppressed, the active participants were detained and fined by the court under articles on discrediting the army.
All this led to the fact that the Aisen Nikolaev’s performance was increasingly benchmarked against that of the previous head of the republic, Yegor Borisov, who is praised by local residents. As a result, in the elections of deputies of the State Duma in 2021 in Yakutia, with a fairly high turnout (above 51%), the Communist Party won, gaining 35% of the vote against 33% for United Russia. In the only single-mandate constituency, the representative of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation Petr Ammosov also won (21.6% of the vote), outperforming the representative of United Russia by only 5,000 votes (20.1%). The third place, coming close to the leaders, was taken by the Just Russia candidate Fedot Tumusov (19.6%) — his gap to United Russia was less than 2,000 votes.
Thus, before the start of the election campaign, there were three well-known politicians who could at least prevent Aisen Nikolaev from winning in the first round, and the second round is traditionally very problematic for the incumbents. In addition to the already mentioned Petr Ammosov from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and Fedot Tumusov from A Just Russia, this trio includes Sardana Avksentyeva, who won the mayoral elections in Yakutsk in 2018, and in 2021 became a State Duma deputy with the New People party.
However, none of these politicians decided to run in the election of the head of the largest and one of the richest regions of the country. A Just Russia and the New People did not nominate their candidates at all. There were no clear explanations for refusals to run. Fedot Tumusov linked the refusal of the nomination to Yevgeny Prigozhin's mutiny in June, saying that under these conditions the party leadership decided "not to rock the boat" and abandoned plans to nominate its candidate against the head of Yakutia, Aisen Nikolaev.
As a result, eight people were nominated as candidates for the 2023 elections.
2.2. The Republic of Khakassia
A unique election campaign is taking place in Khakassia. It should become the most competitive among this year's gubernatorial elections. In 2018, Valentin Konovalov, 30-year-old first secretary of the republican committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, deputy of the Supreme Council of the republic, became the head of the republic. During the 2018 elections, he won 44.8% of the vote against 32.4% of Viktor Zimin, the head of the region at that time. Two days before the second round of elections, Zimin withdrew his candidacy, which disrupted the vote — it was postponed for two weeks. Andrey Filyagin, the runner-up, became a new candidate. But he also withdrew his candidacy, after which the last of the remaining alternative candidates, director of Modern Technologies LLC Alexander Myakhar, followed his example. As a result, the second round of elections took place only two months after the first one — on November 11, 2018. The only candidate was Valentin Konovalov, whose election was supported by 57.6% of the voters. During those elections, the "Map of Violations" received evidence of the use of special means — disappearing ink on the PECs of the region, and, as a result, discovery of a large proportion (up to 14%) of ballots in the voting boxes at some in some PECs bearing no marks, but with traces of applied pen pressure. Since Konovalov's candidacy was the only one during the November 2018 rerun, any invalid ballot was effectively treated as a vote against.
Over the next five years, Valentin Konovalov faced a massive public relations campaign to undermine him. Speakers close to the Kremlin regularly predicted his resignation, but in the end, he turned out to be the only one of the opposition governors elected in 2018 who was able to complete his full term — Khabarovsk governor Sergei Furgal was arrested and sentenced to 22 years in a strict regime colony, and Vladimir Sipyagin, head of Vladimir, moved to the chair of the State Duma deputy in 2021.
During this time, one federal election was held in Khakassia — that of the deputies of the State Duma of Russia, in which the Communist Party of the Russian Federation received 30% of the votes (further 1.9% went to their spoilers from the Communists of Russia and 2.9% — to the Party of Pensioners), while "United Russia" got 33.4%. In the only single-mandate constituency Sergei Sokol from the United Russia won the tough fight with only 29% of the vote.
Six candidates were nominated as candidates for the head of the Republic of Khakassia in 2023.
Noteworthy is the absence of a representative of the New People party among the candidates, which in the elections to the State Duma of the Russian Federation in 2021 managed to gain 9% in the region, taking third place after United Russia and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, but this time failing to nominate its own candidate for the governor. On March 31, 2023, it was reported that Valery Ilyashchuk, the former leader of the New People's regional branch, was appointed the Acting Deputy Head of the Office of the Head of the Republic of Khakassia with the functions of curator of domestic policy. He also became the chief of staff of the Municipal Council of the Republic of Khakassia, created by the government of Khakassia on December 26, 2022, less than six months before the start of the election campaign. The new council was a counterbalance to the long-standing association Council of Municipalities of the Republic of Khakassia, which was established by all municipalities and is controlled by United Russia through department head Abrek Cheltygmashev, a member of the presidium of the party's regional council.
The formal goal of the new body was "to ensure the interaction of all levels of government and the active involvement of municipalities in the socio-economic development of Khakassia." The presidium of the Council includes members of the government and deputies of the Supreme Council of Khakassia, heads of cities, districts and settlements, representatives of public organizations. Valentin Konovalov himself presides over the Council. However, the real reason for the emergence of a new body was the lack of municipal deputies and heads elected from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation for the head of the republic to pass the municipal filter.
Another important augmentation for Valentin Konovalov was the transition to his side of United Russia heavyweight Vladimir Shtygashev, who since 1990 has been the permanent head of the representative body of the republic, and in the 1980s was the chairman of the Khakass regional executive committee. In mid-June, Vladimir Shtygashev announced that he had decided to leave United Russia, after which he entered the list of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation in the elections of republican deputies as number two — after Konovalov. Before that, on April 22, he called the regional deputies from United Russia, who refused to approve the report of the communist governor, “punks”.
The reason for this was the dissatisfaction of local politicians with the arrival of a new team in the regional branch, headed by the one Sergei Sokol, who since last year was predicted to be the main competitor of Valentin Konovalov. The Kremlin has invested heavily in promoting its candidate. For a significant part of last year, Sergei Sokol was allegedly in the “zone of the Special Military Operation”, which was actively covered by the federal media, and in the spring of 2023, he was even awarded the Order of Courage, after which he arrived in Khakassia.
The response to the demarche by Shtygashev and some other United Russia members was the speech of Nikolai Razumovan, a deputy from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, at the last session of the Supreme Council. He declared, that because of the governor, Valentin Konovalov, he was leaving the Communist Party. The deputy said that the Beysky district voted for the Communist Party of the Russian Federation in the last elections, but when the fight against coal mines began in the area, the head of the region did not intervene, leaving the residents and the deputy one-on-one with the issue. In addition, in his opinion, over the past five years there have been no decisive changes in water supply, road construction, refurbishing of community centers and schools. In the upcoming elections to the Supreme Council of the new convocation, Razumov was self-nominated.
Over the past year, Konovalov has generally managed to win over a significant part of the republican elites. In addition to Shtygashev, Sergei Komarov from United Russia, a well-known in Khakassia ex-chairman of the budget committee of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Khakassia, joined his team. On September 14, 2022, he became Acting Deputy to the Governor Valentin Konovalov. Komarov worked in the structures of United Russia, by 2018 becoming the secretary of the political council of the regional branch of United Russia. In terms of party work, Sergei Komarov was engaged in election campaigns, supervising candidates from United Russia.
Six months earlier, in April 2022, Vasily Shulbaev, deputy of the Supreme Council of Khakassia, chairman of the committee on economic policy, industry, construction and transport, was expelled from United Russia for violating internal party discipline. He did not support the candidate for the post of head of the Tashtypsky district, Alexei Dyachenko, who was nominated by the party, but supported his opponent, at that time already non-partisan Nikolai Chebodaev. In the spring of 2023 he, together with Shtygashev, supported the report of the head of the republic.
Another important story before the start of the election campaign was the struggle around the conduct of remote electronic voting (REV) in the republic. The Election Commission of Khakassia submitted an application to the CEC of Russia to participate in the REG in September 2023, which was sharply opposed by the government of the republic. The CPRF, of which the governor is a member, has been very critical of the integrity of the REG and has consistently called for its abolition. The government's arguments were the insufficient Internet access across the republic and the low digital literacy of the population. As a result, Khakassia withdrew the application, but the Republican Electoral Committee immediately struck back, making the elections three days long, despite the protests of the governor.
2.3. Altai Krai
Viktor Tomenko was appointed acting governor of the Altai Krai in 2018, replacing the highly unpopular previous governor with a prosecutorial background, Alexander Karlin. The regional political regime has become a little more liberal. However, Tomenko was unable to gain real popularity among the locals: they continue to perceive him as an outsider, who immediately brought in "his people" from Krasnoyarsk to take important offices. Moreover, at the same time, he came to be seen as a “weak” politician.
Altai Krai is one of the most protest-prone regions. In the very first elections in 2018, Viktor Tomenko received only 53% of the vote, narrowly avoiding a second round of elections. At the same time, the main rival of the governor, communist Maria Prusakova, was not allowed to run in the election campaign.
In the elections of the State Duma deputies in 2021, United Russia won only 33% in the Altai Krai, while the Communist Party of the Russian Federation had 31%, and Maria Prusakova won one of the single-mandate constituencies. At the same time, the representatives of the Communists of Russia and the Party of Pensioners scored 2–2.5% each in the districts. If not for these spoilers and signs of falsification in one of the four districts, then all the mandates in the four districts could have gone to the Communist Party. The simultaneous elections of regional deputies, in which fewer parties participated, were even more revealing. More than 12% went to the Communists of Russia, which were the first in the regional ballot — in place of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation in the federal elections. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation got 24%. These results combined the communists would have got more that the United Russia.
Over the past few months, the Communist Party in the Altai Krai has been building up its pressure on the authorities. In February-March 2023, in the cities and districts of the region, against the backdrop of a sharp rise in utility bills, mass rallies were held against the increase in tariffs, which were organized by the regional committee of the party: for example, on February 5, the action took place in Rubtsovsk, on February 12 — in Barnaul and Kamen-on-Ob. The number of rallies ranged from 100 to 1000 people. In Biysk, the authorities refused to hold a large-scale rally three times, on the fourth attempt, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (represented by the All-Russian Women's Union "Hope of Russia" close to the party) managed to hold a small meeting against the increase in utility tariffs and the relocation of the maternity clinic. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation applied for a large rally seven times, and as a result, the authorities agreed to a public rally for March 19. The rally was estimated by the organizers to be the largest one in Russia with more than 1,000 people taking part. In March 2023, after rallies and complaints, the prosecutor's office found violations in the formation of tariffs by the utility providers.
On April 9, 2023, in the Novichikhinsky district, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation gathered about 200 people for a rally against lowering the purchase prices for milk. The rally was not sanctioned. The district administration banned the rally, but the residents still took to the streets. The Federal Antimonopoly Service launched an investigation into the decline in milk prices and noted that cases of price fixing in the purchase of milk have already been identified in the past.
The Communist Party of the Russian Federation also protested against the consolidation of municipalities that began in 2021, which leads to the destruction of the lower level of self-government — the rural settlements.
Nine candidates were nominated for the election of the governor of the Altai Krai.
Thus, Maria Prusakova is the only regional politician today who can not only complicate the life of the incumbent governor, but also defeat him in the elections. Other resourceful politicians also include the entrepreneurs Alexander Terentiev (State Duma deputy) and Vladimir Semenov (Altai Regional Legislative Assembly deputy), who actually control the regional branches of A Just Russia and the LDPR, respectively, but both of them have never expressed gubernatorial ambitions and perceive politics rather as a means to their business end. Both of them are not participating in the current elections.
Maria Prusakova does not have a big chance for registration, since there is a very large municipal filter in the Altai Krai — the candidate needs to collect 502 signatures of municipal deputies and heads, including 140 signatures of the “upper” level (urban and municipal constituencies and municipal districts) from 52 districts and constituencies. For comparison, Yakutia comes second in terms of the number of signatures to be collected this year — a total of 257 signatures are required there.
However, if the candidate from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation is not registered, then the election campaign in the Altai Krai will become a full-blown farce due to the running opponents of the governor (real and imaginary): the spoiler candidate from the Communists of Russia, who lives in St. Petersburg; the ever-running and ever-losing Greens candidate; the well-known, and ever switching parties, representatives of A Just Russia and the New People; and the transgender "candidate" who never got nominated, and other, less well-known politicians.
2.4. Krasnoyarsk Krai
The Krasnoyarsk Krai also belongs to the traditionally problematic regions for the authorities. It is home to the intertwined interests of federal financial and industrial groups (Norilsk Nickel, RUSAL, En+) and local elites. All this is accompanied by environmental and socio-economic problems.
On September 29, 2017, Alexander Uss, a long-term speaker of the Legislative Assembly of the Krasnoyarsk Krai (1998-2017) and a political heavyweight, was appointed acting governor of the Krasnoyarsk Krai, replacing Viktor Tolokonsky. In 2018, he won the gubernatorial election with a score of 60.2%. Though, at that time there was no representative of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation running in the elections: Krasnoyarsk Krai that year became one of the four regions where the party did not nominate its candidates at all, despite good results in the elections to the State Duma two years earlier.
During the leadership of Alexander Uss, one of the main reasons for the dissatisfaction of the residents of the region was the environmental situation, especially in Krasnoyarsk itself, where the frequent “black sky” alert. Against this background, in the spring of 2023, residents of the regional capital were especially unsettled by the news about the project for the open transshipment of coal from Kuzbass in the ports of Krasnoyarsk and Lesosibirsk for further transportation along the Yenisei and the northern sea route to China.
Another acute problem was illegal deforestation and large-scale forest fires, which residents began to associate with an attempt to hide the scale of crimes.
Corruption cases were also constantly discussed, the last of which ended with the arrest of the general director of the Sibiryak construction company, the main contractor for the Siberian Federal University.
The electoral sphere was also rough terrain for the authorities. In the elections of the State Duma deputies in 2021, United Russia received 34.6% — significantly lower than the national average, and in the elections to the regional parliament, which took place on the same day — less than 32%.
As a result, in 2022, talk about the resignation of Alexander Uss became regular, but unexpectedly the son of the governor, Artem Uss, was detained in October in Milan, on an international warrant issued by the United States. The US said the son of the governor of the Krasnoyarsk Krai was involved in a scheme to illegally obtain US military technology and sanctioned Venezuelan oil. However, on March 22, Artem Uss jumped the house arrest and after a short while surfaced in Russia. For some time, it seemed that after such a story, the position of Alexander Uss would strengthen, but on April 20 he resigned.
Mikhail Kotyukov, a native of the Krasnoyarsk Krai, was appointed acting head of the region. The region welcomed the new head with joy and great hopes. Early resignations of incumbent governors are generally a tradition in the Krasnoyarsk Krai. After the return of direct elections of heads of regions in 2012, none of the leaders of this region completed their first term: neither Lev Kuznetsov, nor Viktor Tolokonsky, nor Alexander Uss. It seems that each of them managed to rack up an anti-rating and the baggage of conflicts with the elites in just a couple of years, which is why the Kremlin had to “reset” the situation every election.
The new head is obviously having a “honeymoon” so far and there are no clear contenders. In total, seven candidates were nominated for the election of the head of the Krasnoyarsk Krai.
2.5. Primorsky Krai
Primorsky Krai is a very important region for the federal authorities, especially after the reorientation of Russian foreign trade relations towards the East. In 2018, it became one of four regions where incumbent governors failed to win in the first round. After it became clear during the counting of votes in the second round of elections, on September 16, that Acting Governor Andrey Tarasenko was losing the election to the candidate from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation Andrey Ishchenko, the Electoral Commission of Primorsky Territory decided to annul the election results due to violations at the polling stations of Sovetskaya and Ussuriyskaya TEC. No legislative ground to invalidate only the second round of elections resulted in the cancellation of the held elections as a whole and the appointment of a new election campaign, for which candidates had to go through the nomination and registration procedure again. Moreover, they were forced to do all this in a shorter time than the usual campaign.
As a result, the authorities replaced their candidate — instead of Andrey Tarasenko, Oleg Kozhemyako entered the fray, by that time he had already been the head of three Far Eastern regions. Andrei Ishchenko, who received about a quarter of a million votes from Primorye in mid-September, was not nominated by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation at first, and then he could not register as a self-nominated candidate — he did not pass the “municipal filter”.
However, even under these conditions, Oleg Kozhemyako won with a huge scandal — on the voting day of December 16, observers managed to detect a number of serious violations, the main of which was the falsification of voting results at polling stations equipped with KOIB-2010 hardware.
Oleg Kozhemyako has an image of a tough ruler who cuts no one in the region any slack. After the failure in the elections of deputies of the regional parliament in 2021, when the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, despite signs of massive fraud, managed to gain more than 31% of the vote and win all nine single-mandate constituencies located in Vladivostok, a criminal case was initiated against the leader of the Vladivostok communists, Artem Samsonov, who was absurdly charged with seducing a minor (sentenced to 13 years in prison). In the following 2022, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation suffered a crushing defeat in the elections to the Duma of Vladivostok, taking only two districts out of 35.
In April 2022, the former candidate for governor of Primorye, the owner of a construction company, Andrey Ishchenko, was also detained. He was accused of defrauding equity construction investors. In July 2023, he pleaded guilty.
At the same time, Oleg Kozhemyako failed to gain real popularity among the residents, or even to completely take control of the local elites. As a result, for example, on December 2, 2022, deputies of the Duma of the Nadezhdinsky district of Primorsky Krai refused to support the acting head of the district, Denis Katrenko, in the second round (he was supported by the regional administration). The Nadezhda district is a small one, about 40 thousand people, but is located not far from Vladivostok, and it important for various groups of influence. The Duma of the Nadezhdinsky District is quite motley. In 2018, the elections said Duma were marred with scandals: hunger strikes and rallies. As a result, representatives of A Just Russia, the United Russia and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation got almost equal numbers of seats. Then two more people from A Just Russia joined the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, which originally received four of the 15 seats. These six deputies regularly sabotaged the hearings on a number of issues (in 2019, the Duma was almost dissolved because of this). But now there are not six such “protest” deputies, but eight. Local observers say it's all about one man — Valentin Pak, a local influential politician whom Kozhemyako himself appointed as his adviser. Only in March was a new head elected — the previous candidate was not on the list, and there were changes in the regional department of internal policy.
Due to this nervousness and uncertainty about the election results, the regional authorities had to take a number of measures. In the winter and spring of 2023, the electoral legislation was significantly changed.
Firstly, the parameters of the municipal filter were changed: although the share of signatures of all municipal heads and deputies remained the same — 7%, the required share of signatures of deputies of the upper level of local self-government increased significantly (from 5 to 8%), and it is a more significant indicator, since top-level signatures are much more difficult to collect.
Secondly, the institution of self-nominated candidates was abolished. It did not last long — it was introduced specifically for the nomination of Oleg Kozhemyako in 2018. Five years ago, in the September 2018 elections, there could not have been self-nominated candidates for the post of governor. But after the failed elections for the authorities in September 2018, it was decided that Oleg Kozhemyako should not run from United Russia, which racked up a huge anti-rating among Primorye voters. As a result, he went as an "independent" candidate. Oleg Kozhemyako then very much supported the introduction of the institution of self-nomination, because it "expanded the opportunities for citizens", and called purely party-based elections "undemocratic."
In addition, just before the start of the election campaign, in June, there was a mega-scandal over the deliberate exclusion of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation from the election commissions. Spring was the deadline for the reorganization of election commissions, which should have five-year terms. By law, political parties that make it to the regional parliament are guaranteed half of the seats on election commissions. However, TECs reduced the total number of commission members in order to reduce the "party" quota to four people. As a result, in 64% of the Vladivostok PECs, where the positions of the Communist Party were especially strong, there were no representatives of the party. After that, the regional branch of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation refused to participate in the gubernatorial elections as a protest.
As a result, six candidates have been nominated for the elections.
It is noteworthy that the LDPR and the A Just Russia nominated non-central figures in the region. In particular, Andrey Andreichenko, a State Duma deputy from the LDPR, who was elected in a single-mandate constituency, skipped the election. As a result, the opponents of the incumbent governor were little-known representatives of the spoiler parties for the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (Communists of Russia and the CosPRF - Cossack Party), deputies at a level no higher than local self-government and an inexperienced representative from A Just Russia, who had never won even the lowest-level elections. Oleg Kozhemyako, who seeks to be seen as a "brutal" governor, opted to dodge more serious competition.
2.6. Amur region
The Amur Region is a remote and difficult region with a constant outflow of population. One of the main problems is a large share of dilapidated housing, poor environmental conditions (both air and water quality). Residents also cite alcoholism one of the main problems — the Amur Region is indeed among the top scorers in terms of residents’ bad habits.
On May 30, 2018, Vasily Orlov became acting governor of the Amur Region and early elections for the head of the region were scheduled on June 8. None of the contenders had the time to meaningfully prepare. The main opponent of the acting governor could have been Ivan Abramov, a former State Duma deputy who resigned shortly before the launch of the campaign. Before the appointment of Vasily Orlov as acting governor, Amur.info asked “Who would you like to see as the new governor?” and almost 42% of the participants picked Ivan Abramov, but Vasily Orlov offered him the post of senator. As a result, the LDPR did not nominate a candidate for governor that year in only one region -— the Amur Region, where it had the best result in 2016 (29.0%).
Despite this, according to the estimates by Sergei Shpilkin, the Amur Region has become one of the four regions in which administrative candidates, bar falsifications, would be dangerously close to the second round.
The incumbent authorities really had problems with the elections. In 2021, in the elections of deputies of the State Duma, United Russia got only 34.3% in the Amur Region. In the only single-mandate constituency, United Russia candidate Vasily Loginov prevailed with a modest 34% vote. In the elections of regional deputies, United Russia got 33%, and the Communist Party — 21.5%. At the same time, the Communists of Russia, which were listed first on the ballot (as well as the Communist Party of the Russian Federation in the federal elections held at the same time), got 8.3%, and the Party of Pensioners — 5.4%. The combined results of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and of these two spoiler parties may well indicate that United Russia could have lost the regional elections on the lists.
In this situation, the LDPR did not put forward its candidate in the gubernatorial elections in 2023, while CPRF ran not the first secretary of the regional party committee Roman Kobyzov, who took second place in the elections of State Duma deputies in a single-mandate district in 2021, but the much less famous and popular Boris Beloborodov, former Regional Business Ombudsman.
In total, five people became candidates for governor.
2.7. Voronezh region
The Voronezh region finds itself on the border of the “zone of Special Military Operation” and is one of the “electoral sultanates” — electoral statistician Sergei Shpilkin classified more than half of the votes received by United Russia in the 2021 State Duma elections as “anomalous”. At the same time, in the city of Voronezh, the results were radically different from the rest of the region — United Russia and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation received almost the same number of votes (about 30% — very similar to the results in the regions where official election results can be trusted). The trial over fraud in the elections of regional deputies in 2020 is underway in the Voronezh court right now. Sergey Shpilkin also noted, that in the 2018 regional governor elections, the current head of the region, Alexander Gusev, bar falsifications, would have been dangerously close to the second round. At the same time, the remaining three “parliamentary” parties were unable to nominate prominent candidates: all active and well-known people from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation publicly refused to run for governor from the party, as did the people from the LDPR, the regional branch of A Just Russia was crushed the day before.
Since then, the situation does not seem to have changed much. Five people were nominated this year.
Particularly noteworthy is the fact that A Just Russia decided to run a blue-collar worker in the elections of the head of the region, and not the regional deputy Yevgeny Oryupin.
2.8. Ivanovo region
The Ivanovo region is a small and rather poor region, but the Moscow elite favor it as their retreat site. In particular, the region is the home to the small town of Plyos, where the infamous "Medvedev's residence" is located. The mayor of Plyos is Timerbulat Karimov, the son-in-law of the head of Rosneft, Igor Sechin. As a result, the regional administration does not have control over what is happening in the region. Wages in the region are low and many residents are forced to look for work in other regions.
At the time of the return of direct elections of governors in 2012, the region was headed by Mikhail Men, but on October 16, 2013, he resigned early, and a little later he was subjected to criminal prosecution. Pavel Konkov became acting governor, who won the elections in 2014 with a phenomenal result of 80.3% of the vote. But he did not complete even one term in the office — in 2017, he also voluntarily resigned and was also subjected to criminal prosecution. As a result, Deputy Minister of Economic Development of Russia Stanislav Voskresensky became acting head of the region. On September 9, 2018, he was elected governor. By that time, all opposition in the region had been weakened.
On the eve of the new election campaign, there was a public discussion of yet another head of the region not likely to serve his full term in the office. According to observers, Stanislav Voskresensky clearly loathes working in the region and would prefer to return to the federal level, so he is neither trying to build rapport with local elites nor to woo the voters.
The results of the elections that took place in the Ivanovo region after 2018 serve a clear testimony. In the elections of the State Duma deputies in 2021, United Russia received less than 36% of the vote, and the weakened Communist Party — more than 28%.
However, the presidential administration still allowed Stanislav Voskresensky to go to the polls again. Moreover, no serious opponents were put forward. This time there are five candidates.
Thus, two of the four competitors of Stanislav Voskresensky this time are quite well-known opponents. In the last gubernatorial elections, Dmitry Shelyakin scored 9.5%, and Pavel Popov — a little over 5%.
2.9. Kemerovo region
Kuzbass is one of the traditional “electoral sultanates”: in the presidential elections in 2018, it gave Vladimir Putin 85% of the vote, and in the gubernatorial elections in the same year, Sergei Tsivilev received 81%, United Russia in 2021 received more than 70% of the vote, wherein, according to Sergei Shpilkin's estimates, more than half of the votes received by the "party of power" were "anomalous".
There is no intrigue this time either. Four people have been nominated as candidates.
2.10. Magadan Region
The Magadan Region is one of the most depressed regions of the country with an ever-decreasing population, one of the largest shares of dilapidated and decrepit housing, poor transport connectivity, and high alcohol consumption. At the same time, it officially shows a very high support for the authorities in the elections: United Russia consistently receives more than 50% of the vote, although the validity of these results is difficult to verify — there is no well-established monitoring system in the region, and statistics indicate a high proportion of anomalous votes, albeit from a relatively small sample.
Meanwhile, the two previous governors did not serve their full terms and resigned. The first elected governor, after the return of direct elections, was Vladimir Pecheny (elected in 2013). He was appointed acting governor by Russian President Vladimir Putin after the early resignation of his predecessor, Nikolai Dudov. Pecheny received 73% of the vote, with a turnout of 32.3%, but 3.5 months before the expiration of his term of office, he resigned — and the new head of the region became the 57-year-old head of Nizhny Tagil Sergey Nosov, who had previously had nothing to do with region. On September 9, 2018, he won the election with 81.6% of the vote.
Four people have been nominated as candidates for governor in 2023.
2.11. Moscow region
The Moscow region, being one of the most populous and economically attractive regions of the country, is at the same time one of the most problematic in terms of protecting voting rights. Falsifications are systemic in nature, and attempts to prevent them sometimes bear a serious health risk (in terms of the physical safety of observers, the situation has recently become somewhat better, but in the first years of the incumbent head of the region, the risks to the life and health of civil activists were real). However, pressure on politicians (including candidates) is still practiced in almost all districts of the region. Some municipalities (for example, Lukhovitsy, Zaraysk and Shakhovskaya) look relatively decent.
The current head of the Moscow region, Andrey Vorobyov, is one of the longest-lived governors. He has occupied the office of the head of the region since 2012 — among the heads running to get re-elected this year, only Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has been in office longer.
There is no intrigue this year. The only candidate who could be expected to campaign independently — Boris Nadezhdin — from the very beginning stood zero chance to get registered. In total, five people have been nominated for the elections of the head of the region this year.
2.12. Nizhny Novgorod Region
The Nizhny Novgorod region is a well-behaved region for the authorities, where they comfortably control the elections. The results of the election of deputies of the State Duma in the region almost completely coincided with the average for the country — United Russia gained almost 50%, and the Communist Party — about 19%. True, almost half of the votes of the winning party, according to Sergei Shpilkin’s estimates were "anomalous." Law enforcement agencies do not hesitate to exert harsh pressure on civil activists, which resulted in the act of self-immolation of the editor-in-chief of the Koza.Press online outlet Irina Slavina in front of the building of the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the Nizhny Novgorod Region in 2020.
The current campaign for the election of the head of the region promises to be extremely manageable. A Just Russia — For Truth refused to nominate its candidate (the party explained this by gratitude to the governor for the help that the region provided to party member Yevgeny (Zakhar) Prilepin after the assassination attempt). The New People did not nominate their own candidate, while their regional leader, business ombudsman Pavel Solodkin, was present at the conference of United Russia, where the candidacy of the current governor was nominated.
Two more "contenders" of the current head of the region (Ilya Pomerantsev from the Civilian Force and Alexander Bykov from the Pensioners' Party) had a common financial commissioner — Irina Ivanovna Afanasyeva. Theoretically, they could be two full namesakes, but a woman bearing that name was already an authorized representative for financial matters with the Party of Pensioners and in the elections to the State Duma and the regional parliament in 2021, at the same time, the Communists of Russia had an authorized representative with the exact same name in the elections to Legislative Assembly, as did their candidate for the State Duma, Dmitry Dobrovolsky. In addition, Irina Ivanovna Afanasyeva is listed as an accountant for the ANO Center for Social Research and Development of Civil Institutions from Nizhny Novgorod. In 2022, this organization made donations to the election funds of candidates for governors of the Yaroslavl region from the same Communists of Russia and the Pensioners’ Party, and before that, it financed self-nominated candidates in the by-elections to the City Duma of Nizhny Novgorod in 2019. The head of the organization, Dmitry Vladimirovich Yemintsev, is the full namesake of the candidate for deputy of the Legislative Assembly of the Nizhny Novgorod Region in 2021. He was the first in the constituency group from United Russia. He was also a self-nominated candidate in the elections of governors of two other regions — Murmansk and Astrakhan regions, but in both cases was unable to secure registration.
In total, five people were nominated as candidates for governor of the Nizhny Novgorod Region in 2023.
2.13. Novosibirsk region
The Novosibirsk region looks rather at odds with most of the country. United Russia is not always sure of victory here, the positions of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and even the "non-systemic opposition" are strong. In Novosibirsk, the country’s third most populous city and its largest municipality, representatives of the non-systemic opposition were able to become city council deputies in 2020 — four deputies from the Novosibirsk 2020 coalition, created with the support of Alexei Navalny’s team. Coalition leader Sergei Boyko was able to confidently win a single-mandate constituency against the vice-speaker of the City Council. Even earlier, he took second place in the election of the mayor of the city.
Since 2014, communist Anatoly Lokot has been the mayor of Novosibirsk, he is also the first secretary of the regional committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. When he was first elected, he was supported by the opposition coalition, which included not only leftist forces, but also liberals. Several strong candidates then withdrew in his favor, including well-known oppositionist Ilya Ponomarev and former Deputy Minister of Agriculture of the Russian Federation Ivan Starikov. As a result, Lokot defeated United Russia’s Vladimir Znatkov. For this reason, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation in the Novosibirsk region is actually the second "party of power", with its own administrative leverage, which is also used against the rest of the opposition.
In 2018, Lokot, driven by dramatic negotiations with the presidential administration, refused to participate in the gubernatorial elections, supporting the candidacy of Andrei Travnikov, appointed by the president. The reason for the withdrawal was pressure on Lokot, the Communist Party and the former presidential envoy to the Siberian Federal District, the former governor of the Novosibirsk Region and the Krasnoyarsk Krai, Viktor Tolokonsky, who then held the post of adviser to the mayor. In return, direct elections of the mayor and joint projects for economic development were retained in the city, and Andrei Travnikov, who became governor, supported the communist in his re-election as mayor.
At the same time, Andrei Travnikov remained a stranger to the regional elites that he ever had been — it is difficult for the former mayor of the 300,000-strong Vologda, which he ruled for less than a year, to get some credit in Novosibirsk with one and a half million residents, not to mention it being a very difficult region, which is one of the economic, industrial, scientific and educational centers of Russia. It is especially difficult to do this benchmarked against the previous heads of the region, Vladimir Gorodetsky and Viktor Tolokonsky, who were elected mayors of Novosibirsk before the governorship.
The outbreak of hostilities in 2022 significantly changed the status-quo: the Lokot-Travnikov pact all but ceased to exist, and in the spring of 2023, direct mayoral elections were canceled in Novosibirsk. The head of the city virtually kept silent. The deputies of the City Council Sergey Boyko and Helga Pirogova were forced to leave the country and as a result were stripped of their mandates. Nevertheless, the Novosibirsk region remains one of those regions where it is still possible to engage in political activities without checking in with the authorities.
However, the election of the head of the region, like five years ago, will be held according to a completely non-competitive scenario. This is because of the list of candidates that is offered to voters, and it does not include the most prominent politicians: Anatoly Lokot once again dodges the elections; Sergei Boyko emigrated; the New People did not nominate anyone; LDPR in this region is closely associated with the Rassvetay construction group, with which State Duma deputy Dmitry Savelyev is affiliated, therefore it is not so much a party as a department of a large developer; A Just Russia is very weak after the departure of Ilya Ponomarev (for example, the current head of the faction in the Legislative Assembly, Anatoly Kubanov, won only 2% in the 2014 mayoral elections in Novosibirsk).
In the current elections, five people were nominated as candidates for the governor of the Novosibirsk region.
2.14. Omsk region
The Omsk region is one of the most problematic regions of Western Siberia, where the authorities have been constantly experiencing problems in recent years. In this sense, the elections of the State Duma deputies in 2021 are indicative: United Russia won less than 33%, and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation — more than 31% (furthermore, the Communists of Russia and the Pensioners' Party scored another 5.5%). The Communist Party of the Russian Federation also won two of the three single-mandate constituencies. At the simultaneous elections of regional deputies of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, they were “robbed” by the Communists of Russia” (11%), who, like in the Altai Krai and the Amur Region, got the first number on the ballots, under which the Communist Party of the Russian Federation was running on the same day in the federal elections. Another 4.7% was taken by the Party of Pensioners. Without these votes, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation received almost 24%, while United Russia had 31%.
Following these developments, in 2017 the Kremlin decided to “surender” the region to A Just Russia. One of the most prominent part members, Alexander Burkov, who had previously spent his entire political career in the Sverdlovsk region, was appointed acting governor. In 2018, as a self-nominated candidate, he won more than 82% in the elections for the head of the region, when no candidates neither from United Russia nor from the Communist Party participated. At his post, he replaced Viktor Nazarov, who was also at first acting head in place of the long-term head of the region, Leonid Polezhaev, who retired early.
Alexander Burkov throughout his entire term maintained utmost loyalty to the federal authorities — the entire domestic political bloc of the regional administration actually worked to the benefit of United Russia. At the same time, he did not irritate the people — neither the voters, nor the regional and local bureaucracy — and, it seems, he could well go to the next term. However, on March 29, 2023, Alexander Burkov, who never became accepted in the region, resigned, and former DPR Prime Minister Vitaly Khotsenko became acting governor.
Khotsenko is also clearly struggling to become a fixture in the Omsk region. Sometimes it feels he never quite returned "from the battlefield." At the very first public event in the Omsk region (presentation as acting governor), he said: "I hope that I will be worthy of applause when I have to leave for another job." And then, during the first months of his tenure at the head of the Omsk region, he actively turned to the topic of the Special Military Operation, which looked strange against the background of the region's big problems in the field of housing and utilities, road construction, landscaping, access to schools and kindergartens, etc.
The mid-level bureaucracy are also not too happy about the community work they were forced to do over weekends.
Against this background, as many as eight people were nominated as candidates for governor of the Omsk region.
There is only one candidate on this list who could pose a threat to the acting governor —Andrey Alekhin, the first secretary of the regional committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, a deputy of the State Duma, who won two years ago in a single-mandate constituency. Moreover, among the communists, he is not the strongest candidate — Oleg Smolin, another single-mandate State Duma deputy, is better-know and more popular in the Omsk region. Other candidates do not have popularity, notoriety, or any significant political experience. The party organizations of the majority of the "parliamentary" opposition in the region are very weak: A Just Russia never became the second "party of power" and remain inconspicuous; the LDPR in the Omsk region also has a very weak branch.
It is noteworthy that not only New People, but also A Just Russia, whose representative was the head of the region just six months ago, did not nominate anyone.
2.15. Oryol Region
The Oryol region, being the birthplace of Gennady Zyuganov, is “assigned” to the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. Both the current head of the region, Andrei Klychkov, and his predecessor, Vadim Potomsky, are members of this party. However, this has little effect on the electoral ratings of the Communists — in the Oryol region they demonstrate country-average performance, and the current heads of the regions are emphatically loyal to the federal center. In order to ensure their victory, United Russia has never participated in the elections since their return.
The current head of the region, Andrey Klychkov, was a well-known and quite popular politician in Moscow, he could take some of the votes from Sergei Sobyanin in the mayoral elections in the capital in 2018, but in October 2017 he was unexpectedly appointed acting head of the Oryol region. He did not blend in there, not even with the communists.
During his administration of the region, the most notorious scandal was the case of the mayor of the city of Oryol, Yuri Parakhin. Among the charges brought against him is the charge of possible falsification of the elections of deputies of the Oryol Regional Council in 2021 (an audio recording of the meeting was made public, featuring someone with a voice similar to that of the Mayor of Oryol, Yuri Parakhin “setting the tasks for territorial election commissions, intimidating their leaders, sharing the experience of the already conducted electoral fraud and inciting his official and unofficial subordinates to break the law”).
Five people have been nominated in the current elections for the head of the region.
It is noteworthy that not only United Russia, but also A Just Russia dodged the elections of the governor of the Oryol region.
2.16. Pskov region
The Pskov region is a small, but rather distinctive political region. This is one of a very small number of regions where Yabloko retains a noticeable position (in the elections of deputies of the Pskov Regional Assembly in 2020, they scored more than 6%). The previous head of the region was Secretary of the General Council of United Russia, Senator Andrey Turchak. This being a frontier region, it frequently has issue on the border with Latvia and Estonia due to Ukrainian refugees, and because it hosts the 76th Airborne the topic of the Special Military Operation is of great importance in the domestic political sense.
One of the notable events at the very start of the gubernatorial elections was that the head of the regional branch of the Yabloko party, Lev Shlosberg, was declared a "foreign agent". After that, Yabloko refused to participate in the election of the head of the region, and Artur Gaiduk became the new head of the regional branch of the party. On July 5, at 14:45, the police came to the office of the Pskov Yabloko to conduct an “inspection of the premises” and presented a decision to initiate administrative proceedings under part 2 of Art. 13.15 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation "Abuse of freedom of the mass media." The police seized the office equipment and personal laptops and phones. The chairman of the regional branch believes, that the actions of the police are connected with the upcoming elections in the Pskov region. In addition, on July 7, 2023, several political technology telegram channels in the Pskov region published a smearing video about Lev Shlosberg and his being a foreign agent.
The region also has a fairly prominent branch of A Just Russia – For Truth party, which received more than 9% of the vote in the regional elections in 2020. However, the party did not nominate a candidate in the current elections, and its leader, Oleg Bryachak, actually supported the incumbent head of the region, Mikhail Vedernikov.
A strange occurrence took place with the nomination of a candidate from the Communist Party. Initially, it was the deputy of the Pskov City Duma Alexander Baev. However, he later withdrew his candidacy due to "poor health." The Communist Party of the Russian Federation held a new party conference, at which it nominated Pyotr Alekseenko, First Secretary of the Pskov Regional Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, as a candidate for governor.
The New People also did not nominate their candidate — they announced their support for the candidate from the Party of Growth, Igor Romanov. These two parties at the federal level have agreed to support each other and not to compete. It should be noted that a year earlier, the list of The New People was notoriously removed from the elections of deputies of the Pskov City Duma.
Not counting the "double" nomination of candidates from the Communist Party, a total of five people were nominated as candidates.
2.17. Samara Region
The Samara region is one of the few regions where the head is a "local". Dmitry Azarov, before taking the governor's office in 2017 (first, as an acting governor), was the mayor of Samara, and before administrative work he had managed the Srednevolzhskaya gas company.
A feature of the Samara region is also the active cell of the "Council of Mothers and Wives of the Mobilized" movement made of the followers of Svetlana Peunova, also known as Lada-Rus (in 2011-2012 she tried to run for president of Russia, was declared a "foreign agent").
One of the most prominent opposition politicians is a State Duma deputy from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation in a single-mandate constituency, Mikhail Matveev. He started his career as a journalist, was the founder of one of the first advertising agencies in Samara. He has been active as a deputy since 2004. First, he was a member of the city duma of Samara, then — of the regional duma. He has a Ph.D., is a lecturing professor. He used to work with any opposition forces, including supporters of Alexei Navalny, which probably made it possible to win a constituency in 2021. The executive power of the region was shocked, because, unlike most other districts that fell to the opposition that year, this loss was not expected by the authorities. Tabulation of votes was delayed, and after the distribution of the mandate, Matveev's assistants were denied premises, and he himself was denied speeches in the regional parliament. During the coronavirus, he was charged with libel about the pandemic.
However, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation nominated a different candidate for the 2023 election of the governor of the Samara region. In total, six people announced their nomination.
Four of the six current candidates have already met in the 2018 regional presidential election. Then, Dmitry Azarov got 72.6%, Alexey Leskin — 9.9%, Alexander Stepanov — 5.7%, Mikhail Maryakhin — 2.6%. Pensioner Grigory Yeremeev, nominated by the Democratic Party of Russia, did so not to run for real participation in the elections, but to show that it is impossible for a small party to collect signatures, and he intends to file a lawsuit later. This will be the first election in his career for the New People candidate, real estate developer Sergei Pukhaev.
2.18. Smolensk region
Over the past 11 years, the head of the Smolensk region was the representative of the Liberal Democratic Party Alexei Ostrovsky. In the spring of 2012, he was appointed acting governor, which allowed him to avoid the first direct elections, but in 2015 he resigned and ran again in early elections. He was again elected governor in 2020, but resigned in March 2023. Vasily Anokhin, director of the Department of Regional Development of the Russian government apparatus, was appointed to replace him.
In electoral terms, the Smolensk region does not cause problems for the federal authorities. In 2021, in the elections of deputies of the State Duma, United Russia received almost 40% here, while the Communist Party of the Russian Federation got 23%. For the rest of the parties, the indicators were also close to the country-average values.
Six people were nominated as candidates in 2023.
Thus, among the candidates there is not a single person who could compete with the acting governor, even theoretically. A Just Russia and the New People did not nominate their candidates at all, the LDPR and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation nominated inexperienced deputies of the City Council, and they were accompanied by no-names from spoiler parties for the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.
2.19. Tyumen region
The Tyumen region is a unique region, the governor of which is jointly elected by residents of three regions at once — the Tyumen region itself, as well as its constituent Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug. All three regions are among the richest in Russia due to the oil and gas industry.
The Tyumen region is one of the regions where falsifications are systemic. According to Sergey Shpilkin, in 2021 more than 40% of the votes cast for United Russia were “anomalous”.
Since 2018, the head of the region has been Alexander Moor, who began his official career in the Tyumen region during the reign of Sergei Sobyanin. He became acting governor on May 29, 2018, nine days later early elections were announced, none of the competitors were ready for this. Moor won with a result of almost 66% of the vote, State Duma deputy from the Liberal Democratic Party Vladimir Sysoev refused to participate in the elections.
In 2021, in Tobolsk, Yury Yukhnevich, a deputy of the Tyumen Regional Duma from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, was found guilty of distributing extremist materials (Article 20.29 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation) for reposting a video by Alexei Navalny entitled "Let's remind the crooks and thieves of their Manifesto-2002." The court assessed the degree of public danger of such an act, imposing a fine of one thousand rubles, but as a result, Yury Yukhnevich was deprived of his passive suffrage and, as a result, he lost his mandate as a regional deputy and the opportunity to run in the 2021 elections.
It is hardly worth expecting surprises in the 2023 gubernatorial election. Only four "old parliamentary" parties put forward their candidates. The New People dodged the elections (however, in the last elections of the State Duma deputies they underperformed in the Tyumen region, failing to get even 5%).
Being the capital and center of political processes, Moscow in recent decades has become the epicenter of independent political and civic activities. The autonomy of the region has formed a specific model of regional governance. Sergei Sobyanin, who has been in charge of the region since 2010 as mayor, built a team that monopolizes the economic and political leadership of key processes in the region.
The region has no political counter-elites comparable to Sobyanin's team, which maintains harmonious relations with other influential federal elite groups. Enforcement powers (at least the police and the prosecutor's office) and courts in Moscow also work in close cooperation with the regional administration. Moscow seems to be the only region where key persons from the governor's team were not subjected to pressure from law enforcement agencies (especially considering that Sobyanin, among all the heads who are up for re-elected, holds his office the longest).
The unique political asset of the Sobyanin’s team are the advanced digital solutions that have also affected the electoral sphere: since 2019, Moscow elections have been using the regional Internet voting system (remote electronic voting), which is developed and operated by the Department of Information Technologies of the Government of Moscow. The volume of voting conducting via the remote electronic voting in Moscow is colossal —the elections of municipal deputies in 2022 was 2.5 times more voters voting online than at regular PECs. At the same time, online voting came amid scandals since its inception, the results of remote electronic voting are radically different from the results of voting at ordinary PECs. This can be explained both by falsifications and a completely different level of pressure on voters controlled by the mayor's office.
During the voting, which will last for three days and which will use remote electronic voting, taking into account the innovations (electronic list of voters and electronic voting terminals), it is likely that more than 95% (certainly more than 90%) of the votes will be "electronic". This removes observation and eliminates virtually all statistical methods for checking the validity of the outcome. And this gives the authorities the room to present any result they want.
At the same time, Moscow has been the flagship of civil protest activity in the last decade. The mature civil demand for representation and participation in government was converted several times into noticeable electoral achievements of independent and opposition forces. However, these tactical successes did not lead to the loss of monopoly control over the region by the mayor's office. The only representative body capable of limiting the mayor's office in its actions, the Moscow City Duma, always had a blocking manageable majority of administrative deputies.
All this curbs the willingness of politicians to compete in such an important region. And although 12 people put forward their candidacies for the election of the mayor of Moscow in 2023, there are no real competitors to Sergei Sobyanin among them.
Sergei Mitrokhin of Yabloko refused to be nominated as a candidate for the post of mayor of Moscow at the party congress, because he considered that he would not be allowed to run because of his position on the Ukrainian conflict. After that, the conference of the Moscow branch of Yabloko decided not to nominate a candidate for the election of the capital's mayor.
Municipal deputy Zhanna Gorbacheva, who previously nominated her candidacy for the post of mayor as a self-nominee, gave her signature in support of the nomination of Leonid Zyuganov and asked her supporters to support him. According to the politician, such an agreement was reached between her and the party back in May, and now "the time has come to deliver on the promise." The party itself previously called her nomination a spoiler move.
2.21. Chukotka Autonomous Okrug
Since 2008, the head of the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug has been Roman Kopin, who replaced Roman Abramovich, previously serving as his deputy. In his last elections in 2018, running against two deputies of the regional parliament and a non-working pensioner, he got almost 58% of the vote. Kopin was supposed to be the "oldest" among the governors who were up for re-election this year, but on March 15, 2023, he resigned.
Vladislav Kuznetsov, the first deputy chairman of the government of the LPR, the former vice-governor of the Kurgan region, who spent a significant part of his career with Sibur, was appointed acting governor.
Four candidates were nominated for the 2023 Chukotka gubernatorial election.