State Duma to vote Putin as PM on May 8

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Moscow, Apr 1 (UNI) The State Duma, the lower house of Russian parliament, may approve outgoing President Vladimir Putin's candidacy for the post of Prime Minister on May 8, the State Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov said today.

''The vote will take place during an unscheduled meeting of the lower house,'' Mr Gryzlov said, adding that Putin's candidacy could be proposed on May 7 during the inauguration of the President-elect Dmitry Medvedev.

Under the Russian Constitution, the Cabinet must be dissolved on the day of the President's inauguration. After his inauguration, the new President has two weeks to put forward a candidacy for the post of Prime Minister.

The newly appointed Prime Minister, in turn, has a week to form a new government.

''We all know that the newly elected President will put forward Vladimir Putin's candidacy for Prime Minister,'' Mr Gryzlov said.

Leader of the ruling United Russia party also said his party, which holds a parliamentary majority, would certainly support Putin's candidacy.

Meanwhile, the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) and the Communist Party insisted that more consultations with minority parliamentary parties were necessary.

The chairman of the LDPR, Igor Lebedev, said Putin would have to meet with all the factions regardless if he was ''the President or just an ordinary worker''.

Mr Lebedev added his party would nevertheless support Putin's candidacy as Prime Minister.

Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov said his party would not approve Putin's candidacy if he continued to stick to his previous policies.

''They (Medvedev and Putin) distributed all the powers and responsibilities on December 10. I believe this shows disrespect to the country's citizens,'' he said.

According to media reports, Putin will remain Russia's de facto leader, strengthening the currently limited role of the Prime Minister.

However, Mr Medvedev said after being elected that he had no intention of redistributing powers between the President and the Prime Minister.

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