Russian President Nominates New Prime Minister

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) welcomes Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov. i i

hide captionRussian President Vladimir Putin (right) welcomes Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov during a meeting in Moscow on Wednesday. Putin accepted the Fradkov's resignation, saying that Russia needs to prepare for upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections.

Dmitry Astakhov/AP/Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) welcomes Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) welcomes Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov during a meeting in Moscow on Wednesday. Putin accepted the Fradkov's resignation, saying that Russia needs to prepare for upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections.

Dmitry Astakhov/AP/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov Wednesday and nominated Cabinet official Victor Zubkov for the post, a move that could put Zubkov in the running to replace Putin next year.

State Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov backed the 65-year-old Zubkov's nomination, saying his "life path and professional activities in various fields undoubtedly allow him to lead the Cabinet of the Russian Federation."

He said the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, could vote on the nomination as early as Friday.

The nomination of Zubkov, who currently oversees the government's fight against money laundering, was a surprise.

Putin had been expected to back one of Russia's two first deputy prime ministers - former Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and gas giant Gazprom board chairman Dmitry Medvedev - as his possible successor in next year's elections.

When Putin accepted Fradkov's resignation, it triggered the government's automatic dissolution. Putin said the shakeup was required to prepare the country for upcoming elections.

Legislative elections are to be held Dec. 2, and presidential elections are expected three months later.

Zubkov served under Putin when the two worked in the city administration of St. Petersburg in the early 1990s. Putin has regularly tapped former colleagues from St. Petersburg to head top posts in the government.

Putin is very popular among Russians, having brought stability and relative prosperity after the often chaotic presidency of his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin.

From NPR reports and The Associated Press

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