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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Presidential candidate Medvedev proposes Putin as PM

RIA Novosti

11/12/2007 16:53 MOSCOW, December 11 (RIA Novosti) - Presidential candidate and Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev proposed on Tuesday that President Vladimir Putin be appointed prime minister after the March 2008 presidential election.

Medvedev, 42, was officially proposed by the ruling United Russia party and three minor pro-Kremlin parties. The candidate also chairs the board of directors of state-controlled natural gas giant Gazprom.

"As I confirm my readiness to run for Russian president, I request that he [Putin] gives his principal consent to head the Russian government after the new president is elected," Medvedev said.

Speaking live on television, Medvedev said he believed it was of paramount importance for the country to retain Putin in an executive position and preserve his team.

Medvedev said his agreement to run for the presidency in March 2008 was prompted by the need to ensure continuity in the course Russia had been following for eight years, since Putin was first elected president.

"What do we value today? Stability, improving living standards and hopes for sustainable development," the official said describing education, healthcare and housing as the spheres where the first results were being seen.

Putin announced on Monday his backing for Medvedev as a candidate for the March 2, 2008 election. Given Putin's popularity and support of most of the legislature, his endorsement of his longtime ally is likely to guarantee Medvedev the presidency.

Though Medvedev's nomination surprised many Western analysts who had believed Putin would pick a tougher candidate from his retinue of "siloviki," the candidate was welcomed in the West as "a champion of the free market."

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