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    PUTIN TO NOMINATE NEW PREMIER SUNDAY?

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    MOSCOW, FEBRUARY 27 (RIA NOVOSTI) - President Vladimir Putin is expected to make a prime-ministerial nomination Sunday, February 29, after the nearest round of his consultations with the parliamentary majority, said Alexander Zhukov, First Deputy Speaker of the State Duma, parliament's lower house.

    "We think the Duma will receive an official nomination Monday," he remarked while addressing the media this afternoon.

    The Duma may debate the nomination at its nearest plenary session Wednesday, March 3, added Mr. Zhukov.

    He has no idea who may lead the federal government next. "We are speaking out on our preferences at consultations." The United Russia parliamentary group is ready to delegate many to the Cabinet. Alexander Zhukov, on his part, does not think he can make a Prime Minister. "I like it better to stay with the Duma," he said.

    The Vice-Speaker does not approve whatever prospective nomination the press is debating. "Whatever conjectures I see in the media are extremely far from the way things really are," he snapped.

    Though the President is seeking majority MPs' advice, a prime-ministerial nomination is his free choice, and his alone, stressed Mr. Zhukov.

    He does not think Russian political and financial stability will be upset, no matter who takes the prime-ministerial portfolio.

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