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Foreign commentators welcome Medvedev nomination

Foreign commentators have welcomed the nomination of first Russian deputy premier, Dmitry Medvedev, as a presidential candidate, but some warned he would still let Putin hold onto the reins of power.
MOSCOW, December 11 (RIA Novosti) - Foreign commentators have welcomed the nomination of first Russian deputy premier, Dmitry Medvedev, as a presidential candidate, but some warned he would still let Putin hold onto the reins of power.

United Kingdom 

The Times newspaper said President Vladimir Putin's decision to publicly express his support for 42-year-old Medvedev as a candidate for the March 2 presidential elections was a wise decision.

"Vladimir Putin has made a wise choice by endorsing Dmitry Medvedev as his successor to become President of Russia in elections to be held in early March next year," Richard Beeston, diplomatic editor of The Times, wrote on Monday.

He added, however, that Medvedev's soft-spoken character would allow Putin to remain the power behind the throne.

"Of importance to Mr Putin, a Medvedev presidency would allow his present boss to continue to play a strong role in Russia's leadership, either as Prime Minister or at the head of the United Russia party, the country's dominant political force," he said.

The Financial Times quoted Russian officials as saying Medvedev was a popular figure among Russian liberals and the West.

"Despite chairing Gazprom, the natural gas group often seen as a symbol of Putinist state-dominated capitalism, he is seen as an economic liberal. One senior Kremlin liberal this year told the Financial Times: 'The liberal wing supports him. He has the right kind of views on democracy, on freedom of the press, on the market."

The daily also referred to Alexander Voloshin, who Medvedev succeeded as chief of the Kremlin administration in 2003, as saying once, "Mr Voloshin - who remained an adviser to the young Mr Medvedev - is understood to have told U.S. officials last year that Mr Medvedev would be a palatable choice for the west."

Another U.K. daily, The Guardian, commented on Medvedev's lack of links to Russian security services, "Unlike Putin, Medvedev has no links with the security services. The president, who has to step down in May, has made it clear he intends to 'influence' his successor, and has not ruled out returning to the Kremlin at some point."


A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Qin Gang, said Medvedev had co-chaired the committee for organizing the Year of Russia in China and the Year of China in Russia, and that he had made a substantial contribution to bilateral relations.

"We see First Deputy Prime Minister Medvedev as a good friend of the Chinese people who seriously promoted Chinese-Russian relations," Qin Gang said.


Japanese experts said Putin's declared support for Medvedev in the upcoming presidential race had the goal of putting a controllable man at the helm of the country.

Kenro Nagoshi, the director of the Foreign News section at newswire service Jiji Press, said "on the one hand, Medvedev is a yes-man who would do anything Putin wants him to, but on the other, he is the same young technocrat as Putin was once."

Nagoshi said Medvedev was softer and more democratic than other potential candidates, and therefore Russia's relations with the West, above all the United States, could significantly improve with him as president. But the expert warned Medvedev might clash with the so called siloviki, an influential grouping of secret service officials within the Kremlin.

Shigeki Hakamada, professor of the Aoyama Gakuin University, concurred with his colleagues that Medvedev lacked Putin's firmness and is unlikely to put up any resistance to the current president. Yet, his selection clearly signally to the West that Russia is looking to intensify bilateral economic ties.

The Asahi Shimbun newspaper said Medvedev stood apart from other members of the Russian government because he had managed to keep away from "the increasing confrontation between various political groupings." His work, until now, has been described in the press as "safe" and "calm," which has prevented him from winning too many enemies.

United States 

The New York Times said that Medvedev's lack of links to the Russian security services indicates that he will be a "weak figure," and cited Nikolai Zlobin from Washington's World Security Institute as saying: "Everything that Medvedev has is owed to Putin. There is no Medvedev without Putin."

This suggestion was rejected by Russian political analyst Gleb Pavlovsky, who said that Putin would not appoint a "puppet" calling the idea "absurd."

Pavlovsky said: "Putin looks at the presidential post with great respect. He thinks that a weak person should not take this post. I can tell you definitely that if he had suspected that Medvedev was a weak person, he would have never considered him as a candidate."

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