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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Aide Sees Surprise Putin Successor

President Vladimir Putin, who will step down next year after eight years in power, may have a surprise choice for his preferred successor, presidential aide Igor Shuvalov said.

First Deputy Prime Ministers Sergei Ivanov and Dmitry Medvedev are widely seen as the most likely to receive Putin's backing in the March election.

"People keep talking about these two people as potential candidates, but my president may come out with one more surprise," Shuvalov said Thursday in Washington, where he was preparing for Putin's visit to Maine on July 1.

"Perhaps later this year you will learn about one more possible figure," Shuvalov said, RIA-Novosti reported. Earlier this month, Putin hinted that the next president might be a current or former governor rather than a career federal official. Shuvalov said Putin did not want to be compared to Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko or the late Turkmen leader Saparmurat Niyazov, who changed their countries' constitutions to stay on.

Reuters, MT