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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 January 2008, 14:17 GMT
Medvedev insists on rule of law
First Deputy PM Dmitry Medvedev

The firm favourite to win Russia's presidential election, Dmitry Medvedev, says the state should train employees better to consolidate the rule of law.

Mr Medvedev, a first deputy prime minister, told lawyers it was "necessary to give state employees more thorough and better legal training".

President Vladimir Putin has named Mr Medvedev as his preferred successor. The election will be held on 2 March.

Mr Medvedev has refused to take part in live TV debates with rival candidates.

The BBC's Russia analyst Steven Eke says a powerful public relations machine has been set in motion to groom Mr Medvedev as the nation's next leader. He is also chairman of the state energy giant Gazprom.

He is getting extensive coverage on Russian television - one day pledging huge sums of money to provide housing for war veterans, the next, opening a new hospital or touring Russia's regions, our analyst reports.

Opinion polls suggest his popularity rating is actually exceeding that of Vladimir Putin.

Mr Medvedev has pledged to put food prices under state control and now he has called for a total modernisation of Russian law, echoing Vladimir Putin before he came to power.

But Steven Eke says that in a possible departure from Mr Putin's approach, Mr Medvedev said Russia needed a vigorous civil society.

He has also played down tensions between Russia and the West, suggesting they are due more to "misunderstandings", rather than any real differences over policies or values.

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