Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed the governor of Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, Valery Shantsev, the second regional leader to lose his job this week amid reports that more could go as the Kremlin gears up for a presidential election in March.
A decree posted on the Kremlin website on September 26 said that Putin accepted Shantsev's resignation and appointed Gleb Nikitin, a 40-year-old who until now was a deputy trade and industry minister, as acting governor of the region on the Volga River.
Veteran administrator Shantsev, 70, had been governor of the Nizhny Novgorod Oblast since August 2005 and was deputy mayor of Moscow in 1996-2005.
Shantsev's dismissal comes a day after Putin replaced Samara Oblast Governor Nikolai Merkushkin, 66, with Dmitry Azarov, 47, a member of Russia's upper house of parliament and a former mayor of the city of Samara.
On September 25, Russian media reports cited unnamed sources close to the Kremlin as saying that governors of several other regions -- including Ivanovo, Murmansk, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Altai Krai, and Nenets Autonomous Region -- would step down in the coming days.
The reports said that the planned shakeup was connected to preparations for the March 18, 2018, presidential election in which Putin is widely expected to seek and secure a fourth term even though he has not announced his candidacy.
In past elections, the Kremlin has looked to regional governors to secure as much support as possible for Putin.
With reporting by Interfax and Kommersant