Moscow When Boris Yeltsin left the Kremlin eight years ago, he gave Vladimir Putin the pen he had used to sign important documents and decrees, a gesture symbolizing the transfer of power to Russia's new president.
When Putin left the Kremlin, he took the pen with him.
Putin, who became prime minister Thursday, has signaled that he intends to remain Russia's principal leader, at least in the short term - and possibly much longer. He is keeping the trappings of his presidency and many of its powers as well.
It was not always meant to be this way. Putin initially said he intended to hand the full powers of the presidency to his chosen successor and step aside. But as the time drew near, he clearly changed his mind as infighting between rival Kremlin factions spilled into the open, threatening to undermine political stability.