Russia's lower house of parliament confirmed President Vladimir Putin's choice as prime minister on Friday, approving the previously obscure official Viktor Zubkov in a vote whose result was a foregone conclusion in the Kremlin-controlled chamber.

Lawmakers voted 381-47 to confirm Zubkov, whose surprise nomination stunned Russians and deepened the uncertainty surrounding Putin's expected choice of a favored successor and his plans for the country following the end of his term next spring. Eight legislators abstained.