The governor of Russia's western region of Pskov has resigned -- the 11th regional leader to leave his post in recent weeks ahead of a March 2018 presidential election.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on October 12 that President Vladimir Putin accepted Andrei Turchak's resignation and appointed Mikhail Vedernikov as acting governor. Vedernikov was until now a deputy presidential envoy in the North Caucasus region.
Shortly after handing in his resignation, Turchak was appointed the acting secretary-general of the ruling United Russia party by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Turchak, 41, who had run the region since February 2009, is the third regional leader to be replaced this week, following the dismissals of the governors of the Ivanovo and Omsk regions.
Turchak's name was linked to an attack on Russian journalist Oleg Kashin, who was brutally beaten with metal rods by two men outside his home in November 2010.
Days after the attack, the wife of one of the alleged assailants said Turchak ordered her husband to attack Kashin in retaliation for his critical articles. Turchak denied the claims. The case has not been solved.
The attack highlighted the risks faced by journalists in Russia.
Last week, Putin replaced the heads of the North Caucasus region of Daghestan, Primorsky Krai in the Far East, the western Oryol region, and the Siberian region of Novosibirsk.
Late last month, the chiefs of the Krasnoyarsk, Nizhny Novgorod, and Samara regions were replaced, as was the governor of the Nenets Autonomous District, which is part of the Arkhangelsk region.
The shake-up comes six months before the March 18 presidential election, in which Putin is widely expected to seek and secure a fourth term.
The Kremlin has relied on regional governors to secure support for Putin in past elections.