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Putin spokesman says Medvedev in charge on Libya

© RIA Novosti . Alexey Nikolsky / Go to the photo bankVladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin - Sputnik International
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The day after an apparent split in Russia's ruling tandem over Libya, powerful Premier Vladimir Putin's spokesman said on Tuesday that President Dmitry Medvedev's statements were the country's "official position."

The day after an apparent split in Russia's ruling tandem over Libya, powerful Premier Vladimir Putin's spokesman said on Tuesday that President Dmitry Medvedev's statements were the country's "official position."

Putin - Medvedev's predecessor as president and widely seen as the senior partner in the ruling tandem - likened on Monday a UN Security Council resolution on the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya to "medieval calls for crusades."

Russia - along with China - abstained in Thursday's UN vote on the crisis in the North African state.

Without directly naming Putin, Medvedev later told journalists that "I think we all need to be careful in our evaluations. In no way is it acceptable to use expressions that in essence lead to a clash of civilizations such as crusades and so forth -- this is unacceptable."

His comments caused an international and domestic stir and led to speculation of a rift in the power-sharing agreement between the president - generally seen as a modernizing, more Western-leaning reformer - and ex-KGB officer Putin.

But during a visit by Putin to the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana, the premier's spokesman stressed that the premier's assessment of the situation was merely his "own point of view."

"The announcement by the head of state is Russia's only official position, and one that everyone adheres to," Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

Russia sees presidential polls next year and there has so far been no word on who from the ruling tandem will run. Putin was constitutionally barred from running for a third straight term in 2008.

While there have been at least three previous incidences of Medvedev appearing to contradict or criticize Putin, Monday's comments by the president were the most high profile yet.

Libyan state television has reported that at least 60 civilians have so far been killed and over 150 wounded in airstrikes by the U.S., France and Britain on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's military capability.

LJUBLJANA, March 22 (RIA Novosti) 

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