MOSCOW Russia will vote for French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde's candidacy as head of the International Monetary Fund, Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin told reporters on Tuesday.
Russia's official announcement of support for Lagarde comes on the day when the 24-strong IMF board of member countries meet to try to reach a consensus on the issue of leadership without driving the matter to a formal vote.
Lagarde is facing a challenge from Agustin Carstens, Mexico's central bank governor, to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned as IMF chief last month after being charged with attempting to rape a New York hotel maid. He denies the allegations.
"We will vote for her candidacy," Kudrin said, adding that she would be able to "secure reform of the IMF in the interests of developing markets."
The race has been one of the most hotly contested in IMF history, with developing countries trying to secure more influence over the direction and structure of the global lender.
An informal survey by Reuters of voting countries indicated Lagarde should easily get the majority support needed.
The announcement of support comes after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Lagarde was very competent and would make a good leader of the organization.
(Reporting by Gleb Bryanski, writing by Guy Faulconbridge and Thomas Grove, editing by Sonya Hepinstall)