Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed his representative in the Urals federal district, Igor Kholmanskikh -- a former tank-factory foreman Putin had elevated to the post after the obscure manager offered to help him quash opposition protests.

A decree posted on the Kremlin website on June 26 said that Putin replaced Kholmanskikh with Nikolai Tsukanov, a former Kaliningrad governor who had been his representative in northwestern Russia since 2016.

Kholmanskikh came to Putin's attention during a live TV broadcast in December 2011, amid large protests in Moscow that were attended by Russians dismayed by his plan to return to the presidency in a March 2012 vote after a stint as prime minister.

A foreman at the Uralvagonzavod tank factory in the Urals city of Niznhy Tagil, Kholmanskikh offered to travel to Moscow "with the guys" to put an end to the protests in the capital.

Putin won a third presidential term in that vote and appointed Kholmanskikh after his inauguration in May 2012, a move widely seen as a show of support for Russians outside the big cities and a demonstration of the importance he places on loyalty.

Kholmanskikh's dismissal came less than two months after Putin was sworn in to his fourth term, following a landslide victory in an election that international observers said did not offer voters a genuine choice.

Putin also replaced his envoys in two other regions of Russia, naming former Communications Minister Igor Shchyogolev as his representative in the Central region and Major General Aleksandr Matovnikov as his representative in the North Caucasus.

Matovnikov, who has taken part in Russian military operations in Syria, replaces Oleg Beloventsev.

Putin created the system of federal districts with plenipotentiaries in 2000, as he moved to increase central control over Russia's far-flung regions in his first year as president. There are now eight such districts overlying more than 80 regions.
Putin Dismisses Ex-Tank Factory Foreman Who Offered To Help Quash Protests

Matovnikov is especially interesting.

He is KGB literally by blood, his father was a high-ranking officer with the 7th Directorate, responsible for their special forces and security for diplomatic personnel abroad. And he followed his dad's footsteps.

He served in the super elite counter-terrorist force Alpha, now part of the new FSB

Matovnikov flying to Chechnya with Alpha in the 90s

at an even with other Alpha vets some time later

More recently, he transferred to the military, and was one of the people in command of the new Special Operations Forces (SSO), and was deployed with them in Syria

Putin awarding him a medal not long ago, and the title Hero of Russia, for whatever top secret stuff he did over there, in Syria

I saw a Russian TV news show talking about this, there was a guy who served under Matovnikov, in Alpha I believe, who described him this way: "He never yells and swears at you, like most officers (most in Russian military, anyway haha). He always speaks quietly, even, you can say, with a soft voice. But that quiet soft voice scared the shit out of all of us..."

Now, he is Presidential Envoy to Northern Caucasus, where he will have to deal with, among others, Ramzan Kadyrov, who has ruled Chechnya with an iron fist, as his own personal emirate with Putin's blessing

He has done it for so long, he got used to total impunity, and has, it seems, been forgetting his place, now almost demanding Putin fund him a high speed railway from his capital, Grozny, to Krasnodar, on the Black Sea cost: Kadyrov asks Putin to build high-speed train link to Chechen capital

This is looking more and more like Putin has decided to Putin Kadyrov in his place, finally. Doesn't want to remove him, he is still important, in the regional security structure. But he is putting a KGB spec ops hardass in charge of the area (and that is what a Presidential Envoy is in Russia, the guy whom the Governors in his Federal District, comprised of a bunch of regions, report to, and he reports to Putin), who will not be intimidated by Kadyrov and will show him who the boss is...

Gonna get interesting there haha