Belykh Named Kirov Governor

In a surprise announcement, President Dmitry Medvedev announced the nomination late Monday of former Union of Right Forces leader Nikita Belykh for the post of Kirov governor.

Medvedev has sent the nomination to the region's legislative assembly for confirmation, the Kremlin said, Interfax reported.

The move comes just three months after Belykh stepped down as leader of the Union of Right Forces, or SPS, which adopted a critical stance toward the Kremlin during the State Duma campaign last fall. SPS leaders said at the time that they had decided to go into the opposition after the Kremlin reneged on a promise for Duma seats. The party won no seats and was disbanded a few weeks ago.

Belykh said Monday that his nomination did not signal a change in his ideological outlook and that accepting the new job wasn't a question of politics.

"This is a question of a specific region that finds itself in a difficult situation, partly as a result of a global crisis that has also touched Russia," Belykh said, Interfax reported.

"I haven't changed my political beliefs and want to point out that in many ways they correspond with the declarations being made by the country's leadership," he said.