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№ 11 (November 2007)
President of Russia Vladimir Putin named Dmitry Medvedev, chairman of gas giant Gazprom, as his favored candidate to succeed him, putting him in poll position to win next year's presidential election
Putin backed Medvedev, a first deputy prime minister, at a meeting with party leaders, ending months of speculation about whom he would anoint to replace him when he steps down.
"I have known him very closely for more than 17 years and I completely and fully support this proposal," Putin was shown saying on state-run television at the meeting with leaders of four parties who said they were backing Medvedev.
Investors see Medvedev as more business-friendly and less hawkish towards the West than others in the Kremlin who had been tipped for the role.
One analyst said that by choosing him, Putin was indicating he did not want confrontation with the West.
Other analysts suggested Medvedev would remain in Putin's shadow and said he shares many of his mentor's viewpoints.
Under Medvedev's chairmanship, Gazprom has taken a tough line with neighboring countries on gas price rises and has negotiated hard with multinational oil companies.
Putin said the wide base of support for Medvedev's candidacy "means we have a chance to form a robust administration for the Russian Federation after the March elections ... an administration that will carry out the same policies that have brought us results for the past eight years."
Putin's United Russia party holds a congress on December 17, at which it is expected to formally nominate Medvedev, 42, as its candidate in the presidential vote which will take place on March 2.
Opinion polls have consistently shown that given Putin's high level of popularity, Russian voters are prepared to back whichever candidate he endorses to replace him. Russian stocks powered into record territory on news that Putin had thrown his weight behind Medvedev.
The benchmark RTS index rallied to stand 1.35 percent higher at 2,314 points, a record high that brought gains for the year to date to more than 20 percent.
Shares in Gazprom, Russia's largest company which is chaired by Medvedev, also gained 2.7 percent, valuing Russia's largest company at $345 billion.
Medvedev's candidacy was backed by the leaders of United Russia and Fair Russia, another pro-Kremlin grouping. Two smaller parties, the Agrarians and Civil Force, were also at the meeting with Putin and supported Medvedev.
Putin has said he will step down next year, in line with a constitutional ban on heads of state serving more than two consecutive terms in office.
"The choice in favor of Medvedev shows that the president opted to send a signal to the outside world that Russia is not planning to conduct tough confrontational policies," said Yevgeny Badovsky of the Institute of Social Systems, a think tank.
"Medvedev is in a way a more liberal choice, who is not associated with the part of the elite rooted in the security services."