Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov has chaired a cabinet meeting for the first time. Moscow observers believe he is being groomed for promotion. Ivanov was standing in for Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov who is on holiday. Ivanov’s fellow First Deputy Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev, who has previously taken cabinet meetings, is also on vacation.
The prime minister’s post is considered an ideal platform from which to launch a presidential campaign. An opinion poll published in Russia on Thursday placed Ivanov as favourite to replace current president, Vladimir Putin. Putin, enjoying his second and final term of office, has said he will not be backing anyone for the presidency because it will be up to the voters to choose their next leader in 2008.