The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has promoted one of his close allies who is tipped as a possible presidential candidate. Sergei Ivanov, 54, moves from defence to first deputy prime minister. A KGB veteran, he is widely considered to be the more hawkish of the two leading candidates to take over from Putin following elections next year.
Speculation about the succession has been intense, with Putin refusing to give any hint about his intentions. Ivanov will now have equal status to Dimtry Medvedev, the other presidential front-runner, who is generally viewed as representing the more liberal factions within the Kremlin.