This article examines the causal mechanism that resulted in the recall of the Petrozavodsk city mayor at the end of 2015. The analysis shows that the regional authorities played the leading role in occasioning this outcome. They decided to remove the Petrozavodsk mayor after failing to control her actions in office. The key step toward implementing this decision was eliminating the autonomy of local political elites, who supported the mayor. The regional authorities replaced popular mayoral elections in the city with the appointment of a city manager in order to assure their political control in the future. This case study demonstrates that the survival of mayoral governance and direct mayoral elections in Russian cities depend on mayoral loyalty to the regional authorities.