Russia ruling party ousts regional governor

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The governor of a Russian region that saw an unprecedented anti-Kremlin protest earlier this year was unceremoniously ousted Monday by the ruling party on the grounds he was not sufficiently popular.

Georgy Boos, governor of the Kaliningrad region, was excluded from the list of three candidates proposed by the ruling United Russia party to President Dmitry Medvedev to serve as governor when his current term elapses, the party said.

Kaliningrad -- before World War II part of German East Prussia -- is an exclave wedged between EU members Lithuania and Poland with strong economic ties with Europe.

On January 30 this year, more than 10,000 people attended a demonstration opposing Boos and even strongman Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Kaliningrad, the biggest protest in Russia since the economic crisis started in 2008.

In ruthless statements, Vyacheslav Volodin, a top United Russia official and deputy speaker of the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, said that Boos' exclusion was the party's decision.

"Unfortunately, although the level of support for our friend and colleague Georgy Boos was weighty, it was not sufficient for continuing work," he said in a statement on the party's website, adding that Medvedev had been consulted.

"The opinion of the electorate, for us, is the law," he added. He said United Russia would request that Boos' qualities find a home "in another sphere of activity".

After changes pushed by Medvedev, Russia's regional bosses are appointed by the dominant party proposing names to the president, who then chooses a single candidate. The regional parliament then rubber-stamps the nomination.

United Russia, whose overall leader is Putin, has an overwhelming majority in the State Duma.

Boos' exit is the latest departure in a major reshuffle of regional chiefs which has already seen the long-serving leaders of Tatarstan, Sverdlovsk and Bashkortostan regions step aside.

Analysts say pressure is now growing on long-serving Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov, especially after his failure to return promptly from holidays to deal with the wildfire crisis.

© 2010 AFP

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