What prompted the resignations of four Russian regional governors?

In a dramatic turn of events, four Russian governors resigned over 24 hours on April 2 and 3 — in the Archangelsk region, the Republic of Komi, the Kamchatsky region and the Nenets Autonomous region. These resignations coincided with or followed after President Vladimir Putin’s COVID-19 address to the nation on April 2.

Putin accepted all four resignations, and appointed temporary replacements, pending approval by the local parliaments. Meantime, the governors all claimed they left voluntarily for reasons unrelated to the coronavirus. Those claims, and state news reports echoing them, were disputed by independent news outlets and other sources.

Russia’s handling of the pandemic and its statistics showing a relatively low number of infections and deaths are widely considered suspect. Critics say Putin has offered Russian aid to the U.S. and Italy to secure a propaganda victory.