Russia’s only female governor resigns amid army discreditation claims — Novaya Gazeta Europe

Russia’s only female governor resigns amid army discreditation claims

Natalia Komarova. Photo: Natalia Komarova / Telegram

Natalia Komarova. Photo: Natalia Komarova / Telegram

Natalia Komarova, the governor of the Khanty-Mansiysk autonomous region in Russia’s Urals and the only female governor in the country, unexpectedly tendered her resignation on Thursday.

Telegram channel Mash reported shortly afterwards that Komarova was potentially facing charges for “discrediting” the Russian army. Independent media outlet Mediazona later clarified the situation, saying that an activist from the neighbouring Tyumen region who submitted a complaint to the police about comments Komarova made in October was now seeking to appeal a decision not to press charges against her.

Responding to a question about the shortage of equipment at the frontline during a public meeting in the city of Nizhnevartovsk in October, Komarova said: “We as a global community did not prepare for this war, we don’t need it.”

“We were building the world in a completely different way. In this context, there will inevitably be some inconsistencies, some unresolved issues. Do things always go smoothly at your work? They don’t always go smoothly for me,” Komarova added.

The Khanty-Mansiysk administration has maintained that the governor’s comments were taken out of context, and that she had actually been referring to the war with the West rather than the war in Ukraine.

Since then, Komarova has been at pains to demonstrate that she and the region she represents support the Russian military and the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. On 9 May, Komarova travelled to the Russian-occupied city of Makiivka in eastern Ukraine to record her Victory Day greeting alongside Denis Pushilin, the self-proclaimed head of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” and a Russian soldier who had fought in Avdiivka.

Komarova, who has served as Khanty-Mansiysk’s governor since 2010, announced her resignation on Thursday morning, explaining in a video message that she was stepping down to take on a new position. Vladimir Putin accepted her resignation and appointed Tyumen Mayor Ruslan Kukharuk as acting governor.

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