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    Medvedev closes approval rating gap on Putin - paper

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    The approval ratings of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin are almost level for the first time in history, possibly as a result of the recent sacking of long-standing Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, the Vedemosti papersaid on Friday.

    The approval ratings of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin are almost level for the first time in history, possibly as a result of the recent sacking of long-standing Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, the Vedemosti papersaid on Friday.

    Medvedev's approval rating has grown 3 percent since September to 76, while Putin's remains at 77, according to a survey of 1600 people, conducted by the Levada Center.

    After holding the presidential post for two terms from 2000 - 2008, Putin picked Medvedev as his successor and took the position of prime minister for himself.

    Medvedev, who has faced criticism for being "all talk and no action," showed off his presidential powers in late September by sacking Luzhkov after the two had a series of disagreements.

    "Medvedev has been far more active recently than Putin and has done things that the public wanted, such as firing Moscow's mayor, attempting to reform the police and fighting corruption," Deputy Director of the Levada Center Aleksey Grazhdankin said.

    The gap in which figure the public would vote for in a presidential election has also tightened, with 24 percent supporting Putin and 21 percent backing Medvedev. Previously there has always been a 9-11 percent difference.

    "A general trend can be noted in the approval ratings of the two leaders: during 'peaceful times,' when there are no terrorist attacks or armed conflicts, people ascribe more qualities to Medvedev, but in extreme situations, they ascribe them to Putin," Grazhdankin said.

    Putin and Medvedev have hinted that one of them, but not both, will run in Russia's 2012 presidential elections. Whoever wins, will be in office for 12 years, as a result of the extension of the presidential term.

    MOSCOW, October 29 (RIA Novosti)

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