Russian President Vladimir Putin has dissolved the government at the request of Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, Russian news media reported Wednesday.
Fradkov told Putin in a meeting that his request was related to the "forthcoming major political events in the country and the wish to give the president a free hand in decision-making, including personnel appointments," Itar-Tass reported.
"The country is on the eve of major political events -- the elections to the State Duma and the presidential election...I would like you to have the full freedom in making decisions, including staff-related ones," Fradkov was quoted as saying.
Putin replied that it was true the country was steering towards parliamentary elections, to be followed by the presidential polls.
"You are quite right, we all should give thought to how best to build the structure of power and control, how best to make them match the election periods and to prepare the country for the periods immediately following the elections to parliament and the presidential elections in March 2008," Putin said.
He also thanked Fradkov "for the results achieved in his work" and asked him to stay in office until the State Duma approves his successor.
Russia's State Duma, the lower house of the parliament, may gather for an urgent session next week to consider a candidate for prime minister, First Deputy Speaker Oleg Morozov said Wednesday.
The parliamentary election was slated for early December and the presidential election tentatively scheduled for next March.
It is rumored Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov will replace Fradkov as the prime minister, the influential business daily Vedomosti reported on Wednesday.
Ivanov, also a candidate for next year's presidential election, has been strengthening his foothold since the middle of the summer, and taken the lead in the presidential run with his colleague and competitor Dmitry Medvedev, Vedomosti said.
Designated as both first deputy prime ministers, Ivanov and Medvedev were seen as the top two possible successors of President Putin, who was also appointed prime minister in 1999 by then President Boris Yeltsin, months before he became acting president.
The 57-year-old Fradkov was appointed as prime minister in 2004.
(Xinhua News Agency September 13, 2007)