Page last updated at 00:17 GMT, Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Russia ousts governors amid slump

Medvedev interview with a Russian TV channel in Moscow, 12 February
Mr Medvedev vowed to fight under-performing officials in a TV interview

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has replaced four of the country's regional governors, a government statement said.

Correspondents say it is a sign of the Kremlin's concern that the economic slump could lead to social unrest.

A senior aide to President Medvedev, Vladislav Surkov, said the global crisis had accentuated the evaluation of the governors' performance.

President Medvedev had warned at the weekend that he would not tolerate slackers or slovenliness.

"We aren't going to close eyes on flaws in work and, simply speaking, ineptness, sloppiness and carelessness of some officials," Mr Medvedev told state television.

Governors will be replaced in Pskov, Orel and Voronezh regions and the Nenets autonomous area.

Among those ousted is 71-year-old Yegor Stroyev, the oldest of the governors. The youngest of the replacements is 33.

Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev has been asked to take up a regional post, a significant demotion after 10 years in the cabinet.

The changes are subject to approval by provincial legislatures, which is expected to happen soon.

Russia's economy is reeling from the effect of a sharp fall in the price of oil. The 2009 budget is expected to slip into deficit for the first time in about a decade.

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