Vladimir Putin gives strong signal he may be president again*
Vladimir Putin, Russia's prime minister, has given his strongest signal
yet that he may re assume the presidency at the next election in 2012
but said a final decision would be taken nearer the time.
By Andrew Osborn in Moscow
Published: 5:50PM BST 11 Sep 2009
In comments that suggest he is actively considering a return to a job he
held for eight years, Mr Putin said that he and Dmitry Medvedev, the
sitting president, would decide the matter between them when the time came.
"In 2012 we shall think together and take into account the realities of
the time, our personal plans, the political landscape and we will take a
decision," he told a group of journalists and scholars in Moscow.
Analysts said Mr Putin if he had wanted could easily have ruled out
running for the presidency again but said they felt he wanted to send a
strong message that he was keeping his options open.
Opinion polls and experts say he remains the most popular and powerful
politician in Russian, and that Mr Medvedev, his hand-picked
presidential successor, remains firmly in his shadow.
Mr Putin said the two men's personal ambitions counted for nothing and
that they held the same beliefs. "We share political views," he said.
"We are people of the same blood."
He asked: "Did we compete in 2008? No. So we won't compete in 2012."
Yet Mr Medvedev has lately been showing signs of trying to forge a
separate political identity from his long-time mentor, casting himself
as a liberal moderniser. Critics say he has succeeded in putting some
distance between himself and Mr Putin but has yet to back his words with
When asked, Mr Putin said the presidency remained the top job. "If you
want to co-operate with Russia you need to know that it's the president
who heads Russia," he said.
Presidential terms have been extended to six from four years and Mr
Putin would be eligible to serve a further two back-to back terms under
the Russian constitution. If he decided to make a return, Mr Putin could
therefore theoretically hold the presidency until 2024.