Putin Hands Ryazan Job to Major United Russia Figure

President Vladimir Putin has nominated senior United Russia official Oleg Kovalyov as governor of the Ryazan region, the Kremlin said in a statement Tuesday.

If his candidacy is approved by the regional legislature, Kovalyov, chairman of the State Duma's Rules Committee, will replace retired Colonel General Georgy Shpak, who won a general election in the region in 2004.

Running as a candidate from the nationalist-populist Rodina party, Shpak defeated his pro-Kremlin United Russia rival, Ivan Morozov, in a runoff.

Under a 2005 law abolishing gubernatorial elections, incumbents must be nominated for a new term by the president and approved by the region's legislature. Incumbents who fail to receive such a nomination are effectively removed from office. If the regional legislature rejects the president's nominee twice, he can dissolve the chamber and call new elections.

A Ryazan regional legislature is tentatively scheduled to vote on Kovalyov's candidacy Friday, legislature spokeswoman Irina Vorontsova said Tuesday, Interfax reported.

Kovalyov aide Olga Andreyeva said he was aware of Putin's decision and was unlikely to turn down the offer. "You don't turn down presidential proposals," she said.

A spokeswoman for Shpak declined to comment Tuesday.

Another popularly elected regional boss, Arkhangelsk Governor Nikolai Kiselyov, also appears to be on his way out.

Putin has nominated former Yakutsk Mayor Ilya Mikhailchuk to take over as governor of the northern region, the Kremlin said on its web site Sunday.

Like Shpak, Kiselyov was elected in 2004. He has been locked in a bitter feud with former Arkhangelsk Mayor Alexander Donskoi, who was convicted last week of abuse of office and given a three-year suspended sentence.

Donskoi, who resigned shortly before last week's verdict was issued, claimed that the legal attack on him was orchestrated by Kiselyov -- a charge the governor has denied.

In July, Donskoi posted a video on the Internet showing a man resembling Kiselyov purportedly accepting a bribe. Kiselyov called the video a fake.