MOSCOW - Vladimir Putin will not step down as prime minister when he is campaigning for Russia's presidency, his spokesman said on Thursday, dismissing reports he might become acting president to help secure re-election to the Kremlin.
Financial markets have been abuzz with talk that Putin might launch a re-run of his initial rise to the presidency in 1999, when ailing President Boris Yeltsin resigned on New Year's Eve and Putin took over as acting president.
In a research note that attracted wide attention, Moscow brokerage Otkritie suggested that President Dmitry Medvedev could step down early, allowing Putin to assume the presidency on an acting basis until the March 4 election.
Otkritie analysts Vladimir Tikhomirov and Tom Mundy also wrote that Putin could stand down and delegate the day-to-day running of the government to a senior technocrat for the duration of the campaign.
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