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Putin has promised to appoint Medvedev prime minister if he wins the presidency in order to pursue his reform ideas, but many regard Medvedev as lacking the hard-edge political skills to be an effective reformer.
In addition, appointing him premier could anger the opposition by echoing an earlier humiliation — the day in September when Putin and Medvedev told an obedient convention of the ruling United Russia party that Medvedev would step aside from seeking a second term in order to allow Putin to run.
The decision, done without public input and presented as a fait-accompli, was widely seen as cynical and antidemocratic — even an analyst close to the Kremlin called it a "filthy deal" — and contributed strongly to the growing disillusion with Putin.
Despite that dismay, none of the other candidates have been able to marshal a serious challenge to Putin. The Communist Party candidate, Gennady Zyuganov, gets support of about 15 percent, according to the Levada center survey, which claimed accuracy within 3.4 percentage points. The others — nationalist firebrand Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Sergei Mironov of A Just Russia and billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov — were in single digits.
Associated Press writer Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed to this report.
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