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28 Jan, 2020 13:44

Head of Chuvashia expelled from Russia’s ruling party after humiliating local firefighter & threatening journalists

Head of Chuvashia expelled from Russia’s ruling party after humiliating local firefighter & threatening journalists

Russia’s largest political party has expelled the long-time leader of the Chuvash Republic following a series of gaffes which caused national outrage.

Mikhail Ignatiev had run Chuvashia, in the Volga region, for almost a decade before a video of him taunting a local firefighter went viral across the country.

It followed earlier comments in which he suggested that journalists who criticize the authorities be “wiped out.”

The party’s General Council secretary, Andrey Turchak, announced the decision after a meeting of its Presidium.

On January 23, Ignatiev conducted a ceremonial review of firefighting equipment in the republic’s capital, Cheboksary. As part of the inspection, he was tasked with handing out keys for brand new fire engines to firefighters, during which Ignatiev held a set of keys above the head of an officer, forcing the worker to jump to reach them.

Chuvashia’s most senior official is considerably taller than the firefighter in question.

The video of the incident quickly spread on social media and anger fomented over a politician publicly humiliating a city employee.

The governor’s spokesperson told RIA Novosti that he has been friends with the firefighter for a long time, and it was just a “joke.” However, Russian Minister of Emergency Situations Evgeny Zinichev didn’t see it this way and noted that it’s “unacceptable” for a high-ranking official to act in such a manner.

It wasn’t the first incident for which Ignatiev caused upset in January. Earlier in the month, he was forced to apologize for suggesting that journalists who criticize the authorities be “wiped out.” Ignatiev was invoking a famous phrase used by President Putin in 2000 when he suggested “wiping out” Chechen terrorists.

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A statement from the Chuvash regional administration insisted that he was misunderstood, and he only meant to criticize journalists who peddle fake news. He also apologized to those “good souls” who were offended by his words.

Ignatiev has been the leader of the Chuvash Republic since 2010, having previously served as the local minister of agriculture. Russian media has speculated Ignatiev could also leave this post. Responding to questions about this, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov replied: “I can only say that there is no decree at the moment.”

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