Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has announced he would accept the role of Prime Minister if his favoured successor wins March’s Presidential elections. Putin must step down as head of state as he will have served the maximum two terms allowed by the constitution. His close ally Dimitri Medvedev has been officially nominated as the candidate for his party, United Russia.
Putin told the party congress in Moscow: “If Russian citizens express their confidence in Dimitri Medvedev and elect him as the country’s president, I will be ready to head the government.”
The choice of Medvedev, a loyal colleague with no political affiliation, suggests that Putin wants to prolong his political career even after his term ends.
Putin also said the balance of power between the two posts would not be changed. Traditionally Russia’s president decides on the direction of the country’s policies, which are then implemented by the prime minister.
Putin’s endorsement of Medvedev gives opposition candidates little hope of victory in the March vote. Nonetheless, the liberal SPS party nominee has announced he’ll stand for election to defy what he has labelled Putin’s “corrupt state capitalism.”
Boris Nemtsov was voted in to replace former SPS leader Nikita Belykh, who failed to win the party a single seat in parliamentary elections a fortnight ago.