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Last Updated: Monday, 1 March, 2004, 11:54 GMT
Profile: Russian PM Mikhail Fradkov
Mikhail Fradkov
Fradkov's appointment took Russia by surprise
President Vladimir Putin's choice as Russia's new prime minister is a survivor of the country's turbulent politics over more than a decade.

During Soviet times Mikhail Fradkov worked as an expert with Moscow's trade mission in India, and later served in the Soviet foreign economic relations committee.

Mr Fradkov first joined the government after the collapse of the USSR - he was deputy foreign trade minister in the reformist government headed by Yegor Gaidar in 1992.

He became trade minister for less than a year in 1997, but two years later was restored to the same post by President Boris Yeltsin.

Mr Fradkov, now 53, lost his job when Vladimir Putin was elected president in March 2000.

He should be an acceptable figure for Western investors
Max Shein
BCS financial service
But in a sign that the outgoing minister was not out of favour, he was nominated to Russia's influential Security Council.

Mr Fradkov's most prominent post came in March 2001 when he was made head of the tax police, charged with ending Russia's massive tax evasion.

But the agency was disbanded during a government reshuffle last year, and Mr Fradkov was sent to Brussels to represent Russia in the European Commission.

Unknown quantity

Little is known about Mr Fradkov's political or economic views.

He belongs neither to Mr Putin's inner circle of former security officials, nor to the pro-oligarch faction that was dominant under Mr Yeltsin.

Analysts are divided over his elevation.

Some see Mr Fradkov as little more than an experienced bureaucrat, who will remain firmly under the president's thumb.

But others have welcomed the fact that the second most powerful man in the Kremlin has an economic background.

"He's a civil servant who represented Russia in the European Union and the World Trade Organisation. He should be an acceptable figure for Western investors," Max Shein of BCS financial service told Reuters news agency.

"He is a man who will stand up for Russia's economic interests and at the same time will be seen by the West as a moderate liberal," he added.

The BBC's Damian Grammaticus
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