MOSCOW, December 17 (RIA Novosti) – The head of Russia’s second largest city will step down ahead of early elections in which he may not stand, a Russian newspaper said Tuesday.
Georgy Poltavchenko, who has been governor of St. Petersburg since 2011, is likely to resign next year before city elections in the fall, according to a report in business daily Vedomosti citing anonymous sources in the State Duma, ruling party United Russia and the presidential administration.
Discussions are currently underway about whether Poltavchenko will be appointed acting governor in order to participate in the elections, or whether he will be replaced, Vedomosti said.
Possible contenders for Poltavchenko’s position include Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak and head of the Federal Antimonopoly Service Igor Artemyev, according to the report.
Poltavchenko told Vedomosti in an interview Tuesday that he had “not thought about” early elections, or whether he would take part in them.
Unnamed sources cited by the paper suggested that Poltavchenko may be unpopular with the city’s business community. Others said that the high level of political opposition in the city could be behind a push to remove him.
Earlier this year Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin triggered early elections in the Russian capital when he unexpectedly stepped down. Sobyanin went on to win the election with 51 percent of the vote.