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Putin to lead gov't after March's election
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Russian President Vladimir Putin said in Moscow on Monday that he will lead the government if First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev wins March's presidential election.


Putin made the remarks at a congress of the United Russia party, which has nominated Medvedev as its presidential candidate.


"If citizens give a vote of confidence to Dmitry Medvedev and elect him Russia's president, I will be ready to lead the government," he said, pledging not to change the powers between the president and government.


The United Russia officially nominated Medvedev, 42, as its candidate for next March's presidential election at the congress.


Putin said that Medvedev, also chairman of the gas giant Gazprom, is the "best choice" of candidate for the election, when he will step down due to the constitutional ban on serving a third consecutive term.


"I believe that the choice is the most optimal, I'm certain that Dmitry Medvedev will with honor cope with the work of the supreme state post," Itar-Tass quoted him as saying.


The pro-Putin United Russia party, which occupies the majority of seats in parliament, launched its presidential election campaign at the congress, which was attended by some 2,000 delegates.


Last Tuesday, Medvedev pledged to continue Putin's policies following the incumbent president's nod to his nomination by pro-Kremlin parties, and hailed Russia's economic progress and growing importance in the international arena under the leadership of Putin.


Medvedev, a former law professor and close ally of Putin, was promoted to the position of presidential chief of staff in 2003 and took the post of first deputy prime minister in 2005, following in Putin's footsteps.


Medvedev was reappointed to the same position on Sept. 24, 2007, in a government reshuffle, and was placed in charge of the economy and social development affairs covering public health, education, housing and agriculture.


(Xinhua News Agency December 18, 2007)

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