Russian Presidential Candidate Offers Putin Premiership | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 11.12.2007
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Russian Presidential Candidate Offers Putin Premiership

The man endorsed by Russian President Vladimir Putin to stand as his successor in March's presidential elections has said Putin should take up the job of prime minister after stepping down.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev

Medvedev has been behind Putin's rise to power and has earned his endorsement

Dmitry Medvedev, currently first deputy prime minister and supervisory board chairman of energy giant Gazprom, declared that he would stand for president next year in a televised address on Tuesday, Dec 11.

In a surprise statement he added: "I consider it of utmost importance for our country to keep Vladimir Vladimorovich Putin in the highest post of executive power, the post of head of government of the Russian Federation."

Within 24 hours, Russia appears to have ended months of speculation over the country's political future.

Putin has not yet given his response

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev

Putin will retain some power after stepping down in March

In a televised speech following Medvedev's surprise statement, Putin did not comment on this suggestion and no timeframe was suggested for the switch. But Putin has long said that he wanted to retain an important role after leaving the Kremlin.

Analyst Vyacheslav Nikonov told the Interfax news agency: "If Medvedev announced it, then the likelihood is that it will take place."

The decision raises questions of whether Medvedev would act as an independent leader or merely as a figurehead for Putin. This was fueled by the president-in-waiting's additional announcement on Tuesday that Russia must pursue the course set by Putin over the past eight years.

Putin, who is constitutionally barred from standing for a third term of office, gave his endorsement to Medvedev on Monday, saying he "fully and completely" supported him. Given the current president's huge domestic popularity, Medvedev is practically guaranteed to be elected.

Putin enjoys a huge following at home

Dmitry Medvedev

Years of plotting for others have paid off for Medvedev

Tuesday's shake-up comes a week after the United Russia party won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections on a ticket headed by Putin, who campaigned on the buzz words of "stability" and "continuity."

Putin first appointed Medvedev in the early 1990s in St. Petersburg, where both attended the same law school. He quickly rose from campaign manager in 2000 to head of the presidential administration and Gazprom chairman.

He is reputed to be relatively liberal-minded in comparison with his main competitor, fellow Putin advisor and former Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov.

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