Putin says does not exclude running for president

AFP , Wednesday 13 Apr 2011

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says neither he nor President Dmitry Medvedev has ruled out running in the presidential election in March 2012

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday he did not rule out running for president in 2012 polls, a day after President Dmitry Medvedev said he would soon announce if he will stand.

"Neither myself nor Dmitry Anatoliyevich (Medvedev) exclude that each of us could stand for election," Putin was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

"We will take into account the realities of the current situation at the moment of the elections."

"Of course, this decision should be taken sooner or later. But there is almost a year before the polls, and all this fuss does not contribute to a normal working structure."

Medvedev said in a television interview released Tuesday he would soon reveal if he will run in presidential polls next year, in possibly the strongest sign yet of his ambition to stay in the Kremlin.

"No-one can know the future but I can tell you that as the current head of state, as the president, I of course think about it, I simply must do so," he said in the interview with China Central Television (CCTV).

"The decision will be taken, and rather soon at that," he said, in what was seen as the strongest sign yet that he wants to stay in the Kremlin.

Putin said: "If we give some improper signals now, half the administration and a large half of the government will stop working in anticipation of some kind of changes.

"Everyone in their specific place must hoe their plot every day like Saint Francis," he said.

Medvedev took over the Kremlin in 2008 after Putin served two four-year terms as president, with Putin immediately becoming a powerful prime minister.

They have repeatedly said they would agree who would run to avoid competing with each other but neither has so far confirmed his plans.

The stakes are high -- the next leader can stay in power for a 6-year term under a constitutional change.

So far they have not ruled out the possibility that both of them will run. "I cannot speak for Dmitry Anatolyevich, but Vladimir Putin has not yet made any statements about this," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Echo of Moscow radio.

Last month, Medvedev launched a campaign to oust Putin's allies from company boards in what many called a bid to shore up his positions ahead of the polls.

On Monday, Igor Sechin, Putin's influential deputy in charge of energy, resigned from his post as the board chairman of the state-controlled oil giant Rosneft.

That attack came on the heels of Medvedev's very public clash with his mentor when he rebuked Putin for comparing the West's military action in Libya to a medieval crusade, prompting analysts to speak of a rift between the partners.

Several recent studies have said the ruling tandem is increasingly mistrusted and there is a growing desire for an alternative to Putin or Medvedev.

However most people appear not to believe there is a genuine political rift between the president and prime minister.

According to poll results released Wednesday by Levada Center, 71 percent of Russians believe that both leaders will continue working together for the next 2-3 years, and 17 percent believe that there will be conflict between them.

27 percent would like to see Putin as candidate in the polls next year, 18 percent would prefer Medvedev, and 25 percent don't want to see either of the two leaders, according to the poll conducted last month.

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