Russian President Vladimir Putin has replaced another regional governor ahead of regional elections as waning support for the ruling United Russia party put its hold on power at risk.
The Kremlin said in a statement on its website on June 5 that Putin accepted the resignation of Sergei Morozov, the acting governor of the southwestern region of Astrakhan, and appointed a deputy presidential envoy to the North Caucasus region, Igor Babushkin, to the post.
Morozov had served as the acting regional governor since September 2018.
Earlier in March, Putin replaced governors of several other regions -- Kalmykia, Orenburg , Murmansk, and Chelyabinsk.
Since Putin's reelection to a fourth term in March 2018, the Kremlin has introduced several unpopular reforms, including a rise in the pension eligibility age and tax increases. The reforms came as Russia's economy stalled because of Western sanctions and low oil prices.
With ordinary Russians feeling the pinch of difficult economic times, Putin's approval rating has dropped sharply while protests in regions across the country have swelled.
Regional elections in September 2018 were another sign of discontent with the Kremlin, which saw its candidates lose three governor's seats across the country's 49 regions.
Eighteen of Russia's 83 administrative regions are due to hold elections in September.