MOSCOW - French carmaker Renault has decided to replace a French executive vice president at Russian carmaker AvtoVAZ, in which it owns a 25 percent stake.

The news prompted speculation in the Russian media on Thursday that the French firm was losing influence in the Russian car maker.

Renault dismissed the talk, and said it had replaced executive vice president Jan Vensan with a Russian national. We decided that during the crisis it should be a Russian professional. He is better adapted to the local market, Renault spokeswoman Olga Sergeyeva said.

Igor Komarov, who took over Vensan's job, is a former advisor to Sergei Chemezov, head of state-owned Russian Technologies, which also holds a 25 percent stake in AvtoVAZ.

Sergeyeva said Vensan, on the job since 2008, resigned citing personal circumstances. Vensan's departure will cut the number of Renault employees on AvtoVAZ' board to four but Sergeyeva said it would not reduce Renault's influence.

Sergeyeva also said Vensan's departure was not linked to any cost cutting measures. (Reporting by Anton Doroshev; Writing by Gleb Bryanski; Editing by Dan Lalor)