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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sergei Ivanov's Profile Raised as He Is Handed New Duties

New First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov has been handed powerful new duties in strategic areas that significantly boost his profile as a possible successor to President Vladimir Putin.

Ivanov will oversee industrial policy, transport and communications as well as national security, weapons sales, space, missiles production and nuclear non-proliferation, said a government decree posted late last week on the government's web site.

The Feb. 15 promotion of Ivanov, a former KGB career agent like Putin himself, theoretically put him on a par with Dmitry Medvedev, also seen as a leading contender for the Kremlin when Putin steps down in 2008.

According to the decree, published on the government's web site, Medvedev keeps control of the four national projects aimed at improving health, education, housing and farming.

He also has responsibility for migration, mass media, natural resources and the court and legal system.

Interfax reported on Friday that Ivanov and Medvedev had both boosted their approval ratings. The Levada Center found that 24 percent of Russians had confidence in Ivanov, up from 15 percent in January. Medvedev earned the confidence of 21 percent of Russians, up from 14 percent last month, the poll found.

Putin kept his dominance of the political stage with an approval rating of 52 percent, 3 percent more than in January, Interfax said.

Ivanov was the second most popular politician, followed by Medvedev.