Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's former president and current premier, has been elected head of the country's dominant political party, which he urged not to be afraid of opposition.
Medvedev was chosen leader of United Russia at a party congress Saturday, replacing Vladimir Putin, who had led the party while prime minister. Putin started a third term as Russia's president this month.
United Russia holds a majority in parliament, but in last year's elections lost the absolute control it held in the previous sitting. The elections sparked massive anti-government protests.
While Putin openly disdains the protesters, Medvedev is seen as more flexible and more reform-oriented.
He told the congress the party should not fear opposition because "when criticism of the party stops, it will mean that it has lost power."