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Russian Duma Approves Fradkov As Prime Minister

Moscow, 5 March 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's State Duma has confirmed Mikhail Fradkov as prime minister, by a vote of 352 for and 58 against, with 24 abstentions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin nominated Fradkov, Russia's envoy to the European Union and a former tax police chief, on 1 March, a week after firing Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and his cabinet.

Speaking after his confirmation, Fradkov said his policies will include promoting economic growth, reforming the armed forces, and fighting widespread poverty. "I believe that the main task of the government being formed should be raising people's living standards and this means lowering the poverty level, improving the well-being of the people, and ensuring their security," he said.

The government shake-up comes shortly before Russia's presidential elections on 14 March, which Putin is almost certain to win. Putin promised to pick a new cabinet that will make clear his plans for his next term.