Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has announced that he’s ready to return to the top job as President after incumbent Dmitry Medvedev announced he will step down next March.
During a conference of the ruling United Russia party, Putin ended months of speculation and invited Medvedev to complete the job swap and take his place as Prime Minister.
But opponents warned the decision to go for a third term could spark a revolution similar to those seen in the Middle East this year.
Boris Nemtsov, an outspoken Putin critic, compared the Russian leader to Alexander Lukashenko, the authoritarian leader of Belarus.
“Putin will become Lukashenko and then Mubarak, then Gaddafi. Unfortunately, people have no means of protest other than going out onto the streets,” added Nemtsov.
Opinion polls show that Putin would easily be elected next March.
His pro-Kremlin youth wing wasted no time in rallying support following the announcement. They took to the streets, holding up playing cards featuring caricatures of Putin’s opponents.