Belykh Confirmed As Kirov Governor

The Kirov regional legislature on Thursday approved former opposition politician Nikita Belykh as the region's new governor, Interfax reported.

Kirov lawmakers confirmed Belykh, former leader of the liberal party Union of Right Forces, or SPS, by a vote of 45-4 with three abstentions, the report said.

Belykh, 33, was nominated for the post by President Dmitry Medvedev earlier this month in a surprise announcement.

Belykh has said his decision to accept Medvedev's nomination does not change his ideological outlook and that he saw the new post as a chance to help an economically distressed region.

Incumbent Kirov Governor Nikolai Shaklein is to step down Jan. 14, when Belykh will be sworn in, Interfax reported. Shaklein, elected in 2004 before then-President Vladimir Putin ditched gubernatorial elections, is one of the country's least-popular governors.