Moscow likely behind Kirov lawmakers’ idea of no confidence in Governor Belykh – analysts

Nikita Belykh file photo

MOSCOW. Feb 5 (Interfax) – Political analysts believe the intention of a group of members of the Kirov regional legislature to express no confidence in Governor Nikita Belykh has been endorsed by some influential political forces both in the region and in Moscow.

“Mr. Belykh is not very popular with the local elites and is perceived as an outsider. Perhaps those standing behind this idea believe they now can overpower the governor, who doesn’t belong to their group,” Igor Bunin, the president of the Center for Political Technologies think tank, told
Interfax on Tuesday.

The vote of no confidence idea confirms that the local elites do not like Belykh and have enough resources to change the situation in a way favorable to them, says Sergei Markov, the director of the Institute of Political Studies.

“As for the impeachment proposal, it looks like Belykh’s political opponents in the region stand behind this initiative, and they are very strong. A lot of them represent those who have lived and worked there for years and who do not like the idea of outsiders, which Nikita Belykh is actually promoting there,” Markov told Interfax.

Markov refrained from trying to predict Belykh’s future as a governor. “It is difficult to say so far whether Belykh will retain his seat or not. Close attention being paid to Nikita Belykh is absolutely not because a special campaign has been started against him in the media. If it was so, in particular, on the state-run TV channels, of course the governor would be unable to stay,” he said.

“Belykh’s disadvantage is that he was appointed during the previous political fashion of flirting with the opposition. This fashion is gone. An obvious trend now is the administration acting firmly with opposition representatives. On the other hand, the administration prefers to have not only United Russia members or people supporting it among the governors. Following this logic, a liberal can well become a governor,” Markov said.

Markov mentioned the tone of Belykh’s criticism as a governor at the top level as quite indicative. “We hear (President) Vladimir Putin’s not very optimistic statements, in which quite a critical attitude toward Nikita Belykh is noticeable. There is the impression that the president is somewhat irritated by some aspects of the governor’s activity, although Belykh himself is trying to demonstrate absolute loyalty toward the country’s leadership,” he said.

Yevgeny Minchenko, the director of the International Institute for Political Expertise, insisted that the vote of no confidence idea has been sanctioned by Moscow and that Belykh is likely to step down.

“If three factions coordinately stand up against the governor, I think this is a coordinated game, and it is unlikely that this could have happened without Moscow’s go-ahead. I believe the chances that the lawmakers will vote to express no confidence in Belykh at the regional parliament’s next session are quite good. Hence, it is quite likely that Belykh will have to vacate his seat and that an acting governor will be appointed,” Minchenko told Interfax.

Several members of the Kirov regional Legislative Assembly proposed earlier that the assembly gather for an extraordinary session on February 14 to express no confidence in the governor.