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    MOSCOW, March 1st, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent) - The State Duma has received an official letter from the president asking to approve Mikhail Fradkov's candidacy to the prime ministerial post, Oleg Kovalev, head of the regulations committee of the lower house, said on Monday.

    He specified that the letter had already been circulated among deputies.

    Kovalev did not rule out that the candidacy of the new premier might be approved by the deputies at a plenary session on Friday, March 5.

    "On Tuesday, the State Duma Council will set the date for considering this issue," Kovalev explained. At the same time, he recalled that under the law parliamentarians were to consider the premier's candidacy within a week after it was forwarded.

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