Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has remained evasive about whether or not he will run for a second term of office next year. The president seems determined to preserve some intrigue - at least for the time being.
Medvedev hinted that he might give an answer soon
The question of whether Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will once again stand for office in presidential elections next March has long been a source of speculation.
And as his long-standing political ally, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, tours the country to muster support for his All-Russian People's Front (ONF) movement, Medvedev finds himself increasingly under pressure to give an answer.
At the recent St. Petersburg Economic Forum, the president at last hinted that he may soon be prepared to do so.
"You will not have to wait for long," he said. "But any story needs intrigue. Without that life would not be interesting. So let's keep the intrigue for a little while.''
The forum, Medvedev said, was not the best venue for such a statement, almost the exact same words he used during a recent press conference near Moscow, when expectations of hearing an answer to this most burning question were similarly high.
A decision yet to be taken
The two men have a long history of working together
During an exclusive interview with the Financial Times newspaper on Saturday, Medvedev indicated that he and Putin would decide together who would stand.
However, he made no secret of his own desire to remain in office and push forward his agenda of liberal economic reform.
"I think any leader who occupies a post such as president simply must want to run," Medvedev said, while adding that speculation that both men might compete in next year's polls was "hard to imagine."
Medvedev also referred to his earlier comments about maintaining the intrigue and said that a direct battle for the Kremlin would be in neither man's interest.
"Vladimir Putin, my colleague and old friend, and myself represent one and the same political force, and in that sense competition between the two of us may damage the tasks and goals we have been working on during the past years. Therefore that would not be the best scenario for our country and for the current situation," he said.
Medvedev stressed that their relationship had not changed at all, because they had known each other for such a long time.
Medvedev predicted a program of modernization, whoever is in charge
Shared history in power
Medvedev and Putin both served as advisers to the former chairman of the Leningrad city council, Anatoly Sobchak - later mayor of St. Petersburg - and Putin became Medvedev's superior. When Putin became president, the pair maintained a robust working relationship.
Putin is currently engaged in promoting membership of ONF, a movement allied to his United Russia party, within state and private organizations across the country. The front is widely seen as Putin's vehicle in an effort to gain the upper hand in the presidential stakes.
At the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, Medvedev presented his vision of a more modern Russia, appearing to criticize Putin's policies.
But he also stressed that carrying out a modernization program would happen anyway, no matter who would be in charge in the Kremlin.
It remains unclear whether this was a farewell speech, or indeed the start of a presidential campaign. And so, with some nine months to go until the next presidential elections, the intrigue continues.
Author: Geert Groot Koerkamp, Moscow / rc
Editor: Martin Kuebler