The Governor of Irkutsk Region Sergey Levchenko needed less than a year to complete his term in office. Yesterday the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin accepted his resignation. The Deputy Minister of Emergencies Igor Kobzev was appointed the interim head of the Baikal region.
Today Kobzev arrived in the region where the Presidential Envoy in the Siberian Federal District Sergey Menyailo introduced him to the local public servants. Kobzev is an absolutely new person for the region. He comes from Voronezh where he had worked as the director of the Ministry of Emergencies. Then he had been promoted to Moscow where he had risen to the position of the deputy head of the Ministry of Emergencies – the Chief Fire Safety Inspector of the Russian Federation. It is noteworthy that, on the day of the communist Levchenko’s replacement with the emergency response worker Kobzev, a special commission of the Ministry of Emergencies arrived in Irkutsk Region intending to inspect spending of the federal funds allocated to relieve the consequences of the summer high water. To recap, the town of Tulun had borne the brunt then when the river of Iya breaking its banks had just destroyed most of it. The commission began a review of documents at the government of the region, at the Ministry of Social Development, Custody, and Guardianship as well as at the Ministry of Healthcare. Following the review, a report will be prepared for the government of the Russian Federation. The high water had done Sergey Levchenko a disservice. But even without it, he had been in the risk group of governors as a communist. His forthcoming resignation had been forecast regularly. Until recently, it had seemed that he would have been permitted to complete his term of office ending in 2020. The yesterday’s decision by Putin came as a surprise as always. Shortcomings of the work to mitigate the high-water consequences afford a rock-solid and, simultaneously, a long-playing excuse. According to the recent data, over a hundred persons are still staying at temporary residence facilities. Until now, some 800 have not been provided new housing instead of the damaged by the high water and unrepairable. The people are living at rental accommodation. People keep complaining about numerous things: disagreement with the compensation assessment as well as bureaucratic delays. Besides, the First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Sergey Kiriyenko had held a workshop for vice-governors of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation in November. Following this, numerous regions had actually been presented with a “black spot” in the form of low positions in the KPI ranking. It had been announced that Sergey Levchenko’s confidence rating had fallen by 27 percentage points. The Deputy Governor of Irkutsk Region Dmitriy Chernyshov had stated that he could not have commented on the fact as the region’s representatives had not been invited to the workshops for long. Promotion of the Ministry of Emergencies’ representatives and arrival of the ministry’s commission (a question arises of why, in the first place, the Ministry of Emergencies reviews spending efficiency, and not the Ministry of Finance or the Prosecutor’s Office after all) seems to be somebody’s gain in a grand behind-the-scenes struggle for the region. It is known that Levchenko had had a simmering conflict with the speaker of the regional Legislative Assembly Sergey Sokol who is commonly believed to be an appointee of Rostech and its head Sergey Chemezov. The insiders claim that Chemezov has long intended to place his governor in command of the region. For that reason, basically he had propelled Sokol to the Legislative Assembly. However, ultimately, all of their efforts had been wasted: Sokol and his promoter had been sold down the river. “Probably, Sergey Sokol can pride himself on Levchenko’s toppling but other forces stand to gain from this. His resignation is the result of efforts of the many. Another issue is whether they will be able to reap the benefit of the Kremlin’s decision. Irkutsk Region is a sensitive region and it is not a sure bet that Kobzev will be able to win the governor election easily without a total political purge,” the political scientist Alexander Chernyavskiy stated in an interview with wek.ru. Moreover, tomorrow, on 14 December, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation plans to hold a For the Rights of the Working People and the Governor rally to support Sergey Levchenko in Moscow. Truth be told, it had been approved before the resignation had come to knowledge. The former leader of the region has not commented on the current events yet.