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Medvedev Names Ex-Security Officer as St. Petersburg Governor

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev named ex-Soviet security officer Georgy Poltavchenko as governor of St. Petersburg, the second largest Russian city and hometown of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

"This is a major responsibility that you should carry out with honor," Medvedev told Poltavchenko today at his residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. The new governor's candidacy must be approved by the St. Petersburg parliament, which is dominated by the ruling United Russia party.

Poltavchenko, 58, replaces Valentina Matviyenko, the outgoing governor, who will lead the upper house of parliament. A St. Petersburg native and presidential envoy for the Central Federal District that includes the Russian capital, Poltavchenko worked for the Russian security services between 1979 and 1992. He was appointed acting governor on Aug. 22.

Matviyenko's departure follows the ouster of former Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov last September and comes as Russia prepares for parliamentary elections in December and a 2012 presidential contest in which Putin may seek to return to the Kremlin.

"Poltavchenko is a compromise figure and is really already the governor," Mikhail Vinogradov, head of the St. Petersburg Politics Foundation, said in an Aug. 22 telephone interview. "On the one hand, he's Putin confidante, but he's also worked with Medvedev."

St. Petersburg is Europe's fourth most populous city after London, Moscow and Paris with a population of about 4.6 million people, and is also the hometown of Medvedev.

Federation Council

Medvedev, who Putin chose to replace him as president in 2008 after completing the maximum two consecutive terms allowed by the constitution, in June backed Matviyenko to lead the Federation Council, Russia's upper house, and become the nation's third-highest-ranking official.

Matviyenko, who had governed St. Petersburg since 2003, won more than 93 percent of votes in two municipal districts last week, becoming eligible for the job in the Federation Council.

Boris Nemtsov, an opposition leader and deputy prime minister under late President Boris Yeltsin, wrote on his blog that independent candidates were barred from running against Matviyenko, calling her election "a practice run of the fraud" planned during the parliamentary and presidential polls.

Article ©2011 BLOOMBERG L.P. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED; article alao appeared at www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-30/medvedev-names-ex-security-officer-as-st-petersburg-governor.html

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