The former Russian President Vladimir Putin has hinted at a return to the Kremlin, but not for at least three years. Asked about the presidency after his annual television phone-in, Putin declined to rule it out but insisted nothing would be decided until current President Dmitry Medvedev’s term expires. “Russia is due to have the next presidential elections in 2012 and I think everyone should carry out his duties in his job until then,” he said. “It is not worth bothering now about what may happen in 2012. We must wait and see.”The phone-in itself was more downbeat than in previous years with the prime minister facing a series of questions on the world financial crisis, both from the studio audience and from the regions, although all were vetted in advance. The prime minister tried to be optimistic about Russia’s fortunes in the economic maelstrom. “We have a good chance to get through this difficult period with minimal losses both for the economy and for ordinary people.” The prime minister began his tv phone-ins when he was president and is keen to keep them going in his new job. It is not known if his Kremlin successor has been offered his own show.