Microsoft Gets New Russia Director

Microsoft on Thursday appointed Nikolai Pryanishnikov, a former VimpelCom executive, to lead its Russia operations in a signal that the software giant might be contemplating a shift in strategy.

"Having a Russian in charge would allow Microsoft to strengthen its foothold by maintaining a balance between Western and Russian business styles," Vahe Torossian, the company's vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said while introducing Pryanishnikov, 36, on Thursday.

"In times of crisis, such as we have now, a superior knowledge of the convergence of telecoms and IT businesses is crucial for success," Torossian said.

Pryanishnikov, who has 17 years of experience in the telecom business, will replace Birger Steen, who took over as president from Olga Dergunova in 2004.