Moscow, Sep 12: Russian President Vladimir Putin today dismissed his prime minister, clearing the way for him to appoint a new premier who is likely to become the leading candidate in presidential elections next March.
Putin accepted Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov's resignation in a meeting at the Kremlin but did not immediately name a replacement.
Fradkov will continue on an acting basis in the post until a new premier has been named and confirmed by the parliament.
''We all have to think together how to build a structure of power so that it better corresponds to the pre-election period and prepares the country for the period after the presidential election in March,'' Putin told Fradkov, according to Interfax news agency.
Fradkov gave as the reasons for his departure ''approaching significant political events in the country and his own desire to give Russia's president full freedom of decision including staff decisions'', TASS news agency said.
During the last transfer of presidential power, then President Boris Yeltsin named Putin as prime minister in 1999, several months before Putin became acting president.
Putin's likely choice of successor has hitherto been shrouded in mystery. Most analysts consider Deputy First Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov a leading contender.