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Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced his support for Dmitri Medvedev, a first deputy prime minister, as a candidate in the March 2 presidential election, almost guaranteeing Mr. Medvedev a victory. And Mr. Medvedev announced that, if elected as president, he will appoint Mr. Putin as prime minister. It is certain Mr. Putin will secure his control over the Kremlin and political continuity after the expiration of his tenure as president.

His decision is clever and logical. Mr. Medvedev has been one of his most trusted and loyal aides. Both men worked together for 17 years. For Mr. Putin, 55, it will be relatively easy to control Mr. Medvedev, 42, even when the latter becomes president. Reports say if Mr. Putin seeks to return as president before the next president’s first term is over, Mr. Medvedev is very likely to comply with his wishes. Mr. Medvedev, who chairs Gazprom, Russia’s natural gas monopoly, knows well Mr. Putin’s policy of raising Russia’s international status by utilizing its energy resources. But compared with other people around Mr. Putin, he is regarded as liberal and pro-market. This may help attract Western investment to Russia and help smooth Russia’s relations with Western-bloc countries.

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