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Nabiullina will take over from Sergey Ignatiev, who will retire when his third term ends on June 23.
Russia’s State Duma has to approve the candidacy. If appointed, she would become the first woman to head a Group of Eight (G8) monetary authority.
Nabiullina headed the economic development ministry for almost five years, from September 2007 to May 2012.
During her term she oversaw Russia’s talks with the World Trade Organisation which culminated in Russia joining the body last year after almost two-decades of negotiations.
Nabiullina’s candidacy is seen by many as a move to boost investor confidence.
Among other candidates Russian media named Alexey Ulyukaev, ex-finance minister Alexei Kudrin, first deputy prime minister Igor Shuvalov and head of VTB bank Andrey Kostin.