The measure Putin signed Tuesday allows regional lawmakers to forsake direct elections by citizens and instead select a governor themselves. If a regional legislature decides to use the alternative system, each political party can nominate up to three candidates and Putin would select three from the list to present to the regional legislature, which would then pick one of the three as governor.
Direct gubernatorial elections were instituted in 2012 amid the most intense pressure of Putin's 12 years in power as president or prime minister.
Putin had suspended direct elections in a power grab in 2004, RIA Novosti said. At the time, Putin cited national security concerns for suspending elections.