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Russia proposes ex-Czech central banker as IMF chief -2

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(Adds finance minister quotes in paragraphs 8-10, Prague's reaction in paragraph 11)

MOSCOW, August 22 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Finance Ministry confirmed Wednesday that the country had nominated former Czech central banker Josef Tosovsky as head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Current IMF Managing Director Rodrigo Rato, who has led the fund since May 2004, suddenly announced his resignation in July and is expected to step down in October.

"A Russian representative on the Board of Governors of the International Monetary Fund nominated Josef Tosovsky for the post of IMF Managing Director on Tuesday," the ministry said on its Web site.

Tosovsky was governor of the Czech National Bank in 1989-2000 and headed the government in 1997-1998 under then-President Vaclav Havel. He currently chairs the Financial Stability Institute in Basel, Switzerland.

"We believe Mr. Tosovsky will be the right man in the right place given his considerable expertise in the sphere of international economic cooperation, and being a recognized expert on financial stability," the statement reads.

The European Union has put forward former French finance minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn as a candidate for the top position in the global financial institution, traditionally occupied by West European financiers. The selection process will be completed by August 31.

By convention, the heads of the two "Bretton Woods" institutions - the World Bank and the IMF - are selected by the U.S. and Europe, respectively.

After meeting with Strauss-Kahn in Moscow last week, Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, a member of the IMF Board of Governors, said the procedure to elect the IMF head did not seem sufficiently transparent or competitive to Russia. Experts said Russia's proposal looks to create competition rather than represents a struggle for the post.

"We have held wide consultations with our foreign colleagues and made sure that most of them favor electing a managing director of the fund on a competitive basis, judging by professional skills. This predetermined our decision to forward an alternative candidate," the Russian ministry's statement said.

Kudrin also said that a legitimate choice on a competitive basis would secure a better image for the organization. "Considering IMF failures in a number of crisis-hit countries, the fund's image needs to be improved. Otherwise, I am sure that many countries will start solving their problems by distancing themselves from the IMF platform," he added.

However, the Russian initiative was met coldly in Prague. Czech media quoted Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek as saying that Tosovsky was not the Czech Republic's candidate, and that the Czech government "will respect the conclusions of the council of economic and finance ministers of the EU," which forwarded Strauss-Kahn.

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