Putin dissolves Russian government, names new PM

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accepted the resignation of the country's prime minister and named the head of a financial market watchdog as his replacement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accepted the resignation of the country's prime minister and named the head of a financial market watchdog as his replacement, the Kremlin said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, listens to Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, who has resigned, in the Kremlin in Moscow Wednesday. ((Dmitry Astakhov/Associated Press))

Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov said he offered his resignation because Russia was "approaching significant political events" and he wanted to "give Russia's president full freedom of decision, including staff decisions," Reuters reported TASS news agency as saying.

"You might be right that we must all think about how to structure the government so that it better suits the pre-election period and prepares the country for what will happen after the parliamentary and presidential elections," Putin said in accepting Fradkov's resignation.

In his place, Putin nominated Victor Zubkov, an little-known economist who has headed the country's financial monitoring service since 2001.

Themove sets the stage forPutin toset upa favouredsuccessorinthe high-profile prime minister's officebeforeupcoming legislative elections in December, followedby a presidential electionin March, the CBC'sNick Spicer reportedWednesday fromMoscow.

Russia's constitution prevents the popularPutin —who hasconsolidated thepower ofthepresident during his seven years in office— from running for a third term.Putin has not officially endorsed anyone to succeed him.

Russian media hadearlier speculated thatPutin wouldbackone of his two deputy prime ministers —Sergei Ivanov or Dmitry Medvedev.

The two parties in the running in both elections are both pro-Kremlin and pro-Putin, while opposition parties have complained of being sidelined in the process, Spicer said.

With files from the Associated Press