President Putin turns 55

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Vladimir Putin is celebrating on Sunday his birthday in the Kremlin, for the eighth, and possibly last, time as Russian president.

MOSCOW, October 7 (RIA Novosti) - Vladimir Putin is celebrating on Sunday his birthday in the Kremlin, for the eighth, and possibly last, time as Russian president.

President Putin, whose presidential tenure expires next year, is unable to seek a third consecutive term at the presidential elections in March 2008.

There has been speculation that Vladimir Putin could again become president in 2012, when he would be constitutionally able to stand for election. However, the president earlier said he would head the list of the main pro-Kremlin party United Russia at the December 2 parliamentary elections, and that he could become prime minister in 2008 if the party gain a majority.

Political analysts have speculated that, in such a scenario, Putin may attempt to strengthen the position of prime minister, weakening the role of the country's president.

Some 10,000 members of the pro-Kremlin youth movement Nashi (Ours) marched in Moscow to wish the president a happy birthday.

Putin, who remains widely popular in Russia, said he would celebrate his 55th birthday with members of the Russian Security Council, as well as senior military and security officers.

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