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Russia's New Prime Minister Sets Stern Tone

Russia's little-known new prime minister has set a stern tone with the country's outgoing Cabinet.

Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov reminded officials Thursday of the need to be serious in their duties and to carry out President Vladimir Putin's orders.

Mr. Zubkov angrily asked why the transportation ministry had not done more to develop the country's sea ports. He asked who dared to make changes to Mr. Putin's instructions.

President Putin chose Mr. Zubkov - a close associate and former collective farm boss - as the new prime minister last week.

Some Russian political observers believe Mr. Putin may be grooming him as a presidential candidate next year. Mr. Putin is constitutionally barred from seeking a third consecutive term.

Analysts believe having a close ally as president would allow Mr. Putin to maintain a strong behind-the-scenes role in the Kremlin, leading to a possible return to power.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.