Putin, Medvedev May Swap Seats in '08, with Putin Heading Gazprom

Upon his departure from office next year as Russia's president, reports indicate that Vladimir Putin could become chairman of the state-run Gazprom.

Current Gazprom Chairman and First Deputy Premier Dmitry Medvedev said he would resign from Gazprom if he were to be elected president when Putin's second term expires. Putin has heretofore selected Medvedev as his choice successor.

Putin's agreement to be Prime Minister is dependent on Medvedev's presidency; though Russia's leading business daily newspaper, Vedomosti, has reported that Putin may also take over the reins at Gazprom.

Medvedev served as chief of staff of the presidential executive office from October 2003 to November 2005, at which time he was appointed first deputy prime minister of the Russian Federation.

Under Medvedev's leadership, Gazprom has soared through the ranks to take its place as a global contender for its share of the energy market.

According to Gazprom Management Committee Chairman Alexey Miller, "It wouldnít be an exaggeration to say nowadays that the process of Gazpromís conversion from the 'national champion' into a global energy business leader has been completed.

"Specifically due to a prompt development of Gazpromís business in recent years, we have probably a keener sense than our colleagues and partners of the disaccord between the existing 'rules of the game' in the energy sector and present-day challenges facing the global economy."

In the next year, Medvedev may get the opportunity to see if the success he fostered in the energy market can be translated into success in the international arena as Russiaís next president.

Meanwhile, the world's largest gas company appears to be saving a seat for Putin.

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