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According to a recent opinion survey a total
According to a recent opinion survey a total of 45% of Russians are likely to vote for President Vladimir Putin's choice for successor, Dmitry Medvedev, pollster VTsIOM said.

On December 17, Putin backed his longtime ally, First Deputy Prime Minister Medvedev, nominated by the ruling United Russia and other pro-Kremlin parties to run in the presidential election on March 2, 2008.

Given Putin's popularity, his endorsement of the first deputy premier is likely to guarantee Medvedev the presidency.  

In the poll, respondents gave Russia's Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov and the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky 5% each. Only 1% of respondents said they would vote for former prime minister Mikhail Fradkov or Union of Right Forces candidate Boris Nemtsov.

Other politicians mentioned in the survey - liberals Irina Hakamada and Grigory Yavlinsky, former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov, Sergei Glazyev of the Rodina Party, soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky and jailed Yukos founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky - had the support of less than 1% of respondents.

The survey was carried out on December 15-16, involving 1,600 respondents from 46 Russian regions.

On December 11, Medvedev proposed that Putin be appointed prime minister after the presidential election. Putin said on Monday he would agree to become prime minister if Medvedev wins the presidential vote.

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