Putin ally Naryshkin voted in as new parliament speaker
Russia's lower house of parliament on Wednesday voted in strongman Vladimir Putin's ally and former Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Naryshkin as its new speaker as it met for its first session.
The first session of the State Duma dominated by Putin's United Russia ruling party came in defiance of mass protests sparked by opposition claims it was elected in rigged polls.
A total of 238 parliament members supported United Russia member Naryshkin's candidacy in the Duma, where the ruling party obtained 238 out of 450 seats in December 4 parliamentary polls. Eighty eight voted against him.
The Communist Party's Ivan Melnikov came second with 208 votes.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the flamboyant leader of the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party, received 204 votes, and Sergei Mironov, the leader of the left-leaning A Just Russia, 203 votes.
A candidate had to receive more than 225 votes to win the post.
Like Putin, Naryshkin, 57, hails from Saint Petersburg and, observers believe, served in the KGB.
His official biography does not make any references to his security service background, only saying he served on the staff of an economic councillor of the Soviet embassy in Belgium in the early 1980s.
The holder of two degrees, in engineering and economics, from Saint Petersburg universities, he worked in the government of the Leningrad region in the 1990s before taking up a Kremlin administration post in Moscow in 2004. He served as Kremlin chief of staff between 2008 and December 2011.
The Duma's previous speaker, the dour-faced United Russia chairman Boris Gryzlov, quit the post earlier this month following mass rallies protesting the election results.
Claims of vote fraud in the December 4 polls brought tens of thousands out into the streets across Russia earlier this month in the largest show of public anger since the turbulent 1990s.
© 2011 AFP