Murmansk deputy governor gets the boot
Babenko has been one of the closest aides of Marina Kovtun since she made it to the head of the regional government in early 2012. That career has now come to an abrupt end.
The dismissal comes as speculations about a soon-to-come dismissal of Kovtun herself reach new heights. Several leading federal newspaper have the Murmansk governor on their lists of outgoing regional leaders.
In late September, both Kovtun and Babenko reportedly spent more than a week in Moscow in a bid to secure an influential post in the federal government.
On her return to Murmansk, Kovtun in a televised interview rebuffed all allegations about her upcoming dismissal. But the threat of removal from the post keeps on haunting the regional leader.
Both Babenko’s and Kovtun’s names have also been connected with an alleged corruption scheme which involves tens of million of rubles. According to Bloger51, the regional leader has received so-called «charitable gifts» from all the biggest companies in the region, and spent it on personal purposes.
Also several more serious corruption schemes have been revealed in the close circles of Governor Kovtun. Until recently deputy Chief of staff of the Murmansk regional government, Eduard Nikrashevsky, as well as Georgy Blagodelsky, deputy head of the Department Supporting the Activities of the Murmansk Region Government, are now behind bars, charged with corrupt practices.
Igor Babenko came to Murmansk Oblast in 1986 to serve in the Armed Forces and soon got a job as press spokesman for the Northern Fleet. In early 2012 he was employed as head of the press office of company Severstal in Olenegorsk and from April 2012 joined the team of Marina Kovtun, where he first served as Chief of Staff and later as Deputy Governor.