Former General Motors Co. purchasing chief Bo Andersson has been tapped to serve as chairman of the board of directors at Russian vehicle maker OJSC GAZ.

Andersson, 53, who resigned from GM last month, was elected to his new position during a meeting of GAZ shareholders today.

In a statement, Oleg Deripaska, chairman of Bazovy Element, which controls GAZ, says Andersson’s appointment is in preparation for the future.

“Our goal is not only to survive the (global economic) crisis but also come out with new products and better quality,” he says. “We expect Mr. Andersson to implement this strategy, and as a working chairman he will also be responsible for day-to-day operations.”

Ironically, Andersson could play a role in the future of GM’s German subsidiary Adam Opel GmbH should it be acquired by a consortium led by Canadian supplier Magna International Inc. and including Russian lender OAO Sberbank.

If Magna, the German government’s preferred candidate, concludes the deal to acquire Opel, GAZ will serve as one of the newly constituted auto maker’s industrial partner in Russia. Plans include launch of an Opel Corsa-based entry-level car within about 24 months at GAZ operations in Nizhny Novgorod.

GM, which has set a July 20 deadline for Opel bids in Germany, now says it favors Belgium-based investment firm RHJ International to buy Opel.

Andersson in a statement says he looks forward to leading GAZ. “I have seen firsthand the pride and determination of the staff at GAZ to make this company an automotive powerhouse,” he says.