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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Khanty-Mansiisk Governor Appointed

The parliament in the oil-rich Khanty-Mansiisk autonomous district Monday approved State Duma Deputy Natalya Komarova as the region's new governor.

Komarova, a member of the ruling United Russia party, was approved unanimously and will become the country's second female governor ever — after St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko — when she takes office March 1.

President Dmitry Medvedev last week proposed Komarova, 54, as a candidate to succeed Alexander Filipenko, 59, who had led the region since 1991. His term expires Feb. 24.

Komarova had headed the Duma's Natural Resources Committee since 2003. In 2000 she served as first deputy governor of the Yamal-Nenets autonomous district.

No gubernatorial candidate proposed by the Kremlin has ever been rejected by a regional parliament since former President Vladimir Putin abolished direct gubernatorial elections in 2004 following the Beslan school attack. Putin, the current prime minister, argued that the change was needed to strengthen the state and head off comparably serious attacks in the future.

Fifty-four percent of Russians would like a return to direct gubernatorial elections, according to a survey released Monday by the respected Levada Center pollster. Twenty-two percent said they were against restoring such elections, according to the Levada Center, which polled 1,600 people nationwide. The poll had a margin of error of 3.4 percent.

Earlier this month, the Institute of Contemporary Development — a think tank close to Medvedev — published a report called "21st-Century Russia: Reflections on an Attractive Tomorrow," which called for a return to direct elections of governors.