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    Russian 'bear' who loves Black Sabbath set to succeed Putin

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    The man backed by Vladimir Putin for next year's presidential election is a heavy-metal loving 42-year-old whose surname comes from the Russian word for 'bear'.

    MOSCOW, December 10 (RIA Novosti) - The man backed by Vladimir Putin for next year's presidential election is a heavy-metal loving 42-year-old whose surname comes from the Russian word for 'bear'.

    First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was nominated by the ruling United Russia party and three other smaller pro-Kremlin parties on Monday afternoon. President Putin later said on national television: "I have known Dmitry Medvedev well for over 17 years, and I completely and fully support his candidature."

    In view of Putin's high popularity rating and full support of most of the legislature, his backing of the nomination is likely to guarantee Medvedev the presidency.

    Medvedev's surname comes from the Russian word 'medved', meaning bear, an animal which has long been associated with the country. The bear is also the symbol of United Russia, and Bear bombers have contributed to increasing tension between the West and Russia of late with their strategic long-range patrols.

    In a recent interview with the Russian magazine Itogi, Medvedev revealed his passion for rock music, saying that, "vinyl really sounds better than CDs."

    The man who may well become leader of the largest nation on Earth said he had spent much of his youth compiling cassettes of popular Western groups, "Endlessly making copies of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple."

    All these groups were on state-issued blacklists during Medvedev's Soviet-era schooldays.

    "The quality was awful, but my interest colossal," he said.

    Medvedev went on to boast of his collection of Deep Purple LPs, saying that he had searched for the albums for many years.

    "Not reissues, but the original albums," he added, concluding that, "If you set yourself a goal you can achieve it."

    Medvedev, seen as a pro-business moderate, chairs the board of Russia's state-controlled natural gas monopoly Gazprom and is overseeing an ambitious multi-billion-dollar "national project" to improve living standards in the country.

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