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Medvedev Accepts Bashkir Leader's Resignation, Names Replacement

President Dmitry Medvedev accepts Murtaza Rakhimov's resignation in Sochi.
SOCHI, Russia -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has accepted the resignation of the president of the republic of Bashkortostan, Murtaza Rakhimov, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

Medvedev made the announcement after meeting with Rakhimov in Sochi today. Medvedev also named Rustem Khamitov to be the new acting president.

Khamitov, 55, is originally from Bashkortostan. He is currently the deputy chairman of the board of RusHydro, a state-run hydroelectric energy company.

Medvedev praised Rakhimov on Russian television before awarding him the country's highest award, the Order of Merit for the Fatherland.

"It was very difficult in the 1990s, and it was much to your credit that [Bashkortostan] could develop and it was possible to prevent the most difficult scenario,” Medvedev said.

Rakhimov, 76, was one of the longest-serving regional leaders in Russia. He has led Bashkortostan since 1990, first as a head of the republic's Supreme Soviet before being elected president in 1993.

Reports of Rakhimov's possible resignation appeared a few weeks ago amid the publication of several critical reports in the state media about Rakhimov and his son, Ural, who were accused of corruption and persecuting the opposition.

Russian state television has also shown documentary programs in recent days that were very critical of Rakhimov and the situation in Bashkortostan.

On July 12, Rakhimov met privately in Moscow with Medvedev's chief of staff, Sergei Naryshkin, to discuss possible successors for the presidential post in Bashkortostan.

Rakhimov's term in office officially expires in October 2011.