Russian justice official Alexander Karlin was sworn as governor of the Altai region of Siberia, replacing a former comedian-turned-politician who died in car crash this month.
Karlin, a former prosecutor, deputy justice minister and Kremlin aide, took the oath of office immediately after being unanimously approved by the Altai regional legislature, Russian media reported.
His predecessor, Mikhail Yevdokimov, was killed when the car he was riding in smashed into a tree as its driver tried to avoid another vehicle. Authorities said the driver, who also died, was at fault. Local officials ruled out foul play, but the Kremlin envoy for Siberia took charge of the investigation.
Karlin said that the Altai region was in crisis - "sharp, systemic and protracted," the Interfax news agency reported. He said problem No. 1 was officials' loss of a sense of responsibility for their work.
"The situation is such that we cannot lose control for even a day, not even for a single hour," the AP quoted him as saying.
Yevdokimov rode a wave of popular discontent to become governor of the Altai region in April 2004, prevailing in elections over an incumbent with strong Kremlin support. A year later, Yevdokimov came under fire from an alliance of political parties that called on President Vladimir Putin to fire the governor for ineffective leadership, and in April the regional legislature passed a vote of no confidence in the governor.
Some journalists and political analysts have speculated that Yevdokimov could have been targeted for assassination because of a dispute over corruption, possibly involving smuggling in the region, which borders Kazakhstan.
An explosion of household gas occurred in a nine-storeyed apartment building in the city of Shakhty, the Rostov region of Russia. The blast destroyed two storeys of the building