Putin ally named parliament's upper-house speaker

AP News
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Posted: Sep 21, 2011 6:31 AM
Putin ally named parliament's upper-house speaker

A former mayor of St. Petersburg and an ally of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has been named speaker of the upper house of the national parliament.

Valentina Matvienko was elected to the post Wednesday by 140 of the Federation Council's 166 members, with no votes against. The choice, following months of political maneuvering, was expected.

The previous speaker, Sergei Mironov, leads the Just Russia party, a grouping widely seen as a Kremlin creation aimed at siphoning votes away from the Communists. Mironov was removed in May after criticizing the Putin-led United Russia party that dominates national politics.

Federation Council members are appointed by regional governments. As mayor of Russia's second-largest city, Matvienko was ineligible for appointment, so she resigned from that post in August.