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Last Updated: Monday, 10 December 2007, 12:14 GMT
Putin sees Medvedev as successor
First Deputy PM Dmitry Medvedev
Mr Medvedev describes himself as pragmatic and business-friendly
Russian leader Vladimir Putin has backed First Deputy PM Dmitry Medvedev to replace him as president next year, Russian media report.

"I fully support this candidacy," Mr Putin was quoted as saying.

Mr Medvedev was nominated by Mr Putin's United Russia Party and three other pro-Kremlin parties on Monday.

Mr Medvedev was previously Mr Putin's chief of staff and is chairman of the gas giant Gazprom. He hails from Mr Putin's native St Petersburg.

The 42-year-old former lawyer managed Mr Putin's election campaign in 2000. As first deputy prime minister he has overseen national programmes in the areas of health, housing and education.

He seems like a solid individual who will appeal to the next generation of Russians
Christopher, Moscow

He has long been a significant player in Mr Putin's group of close associates from St Petersburg.

His name was put forward by United Russia, A Just Russia, the Agrarian Party and Civil Force, at a meeting with President Putin.

Commenting on the choice, Mr Putin said: "I have known him for more than 17 years, I have worked with him very closely all these years, and I fully and completely support this candidacy".

Likely winner

The BBC's James Rodgers in Moscow says the overwhelming support for Mr Putin in Russia puts Mr Medvedev in a strong position to win the presidential election next March.

First Deputy PM Dmitry Medvedev

He will be officially nominated by a special congress next week as the United Russia candidate.

Fellow First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov had also been seen as a strong potential presidential candidate.

Under Russia's political system the president enjoys far-reaching powers, including the appointment of regional governors.

Earlier this month United Russia won the parliamentary election by a wide margin, and Putin supporters will dominate the new parliament.

Mr Putin has made it clear he will retain a significant national leadership role after he leaves office at the end of his second term.

Mr Putin voiced confidence that Mr Medvedev would provide continuity.

"We have the chance to form a stable government after the elections in March 2008. And not just a stable government, but one that will carry out the course that has brought results for all of the past eight years," Mr Putin said.

United Russia leader Boris Gryzlov highlighted Mr Medvedev's role in managing national projects aimed at raising Russian living standards.

"Dmitry Anatolyevich (Medvedev) oversees national projects. He oversees the demographic programme and we believe that it is precisely the issues to do with raising standards of living that are the most important issues for the upcoming four-year period."

President Putin explains why he backs Mr Medvedev

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