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Medvedev, Putin both should run for presidency - Russian opposition

© RIA Novosti . Dmitry Astakhov / Go to the photo bankDmitry Medvedev
Dmitry Medvedev - Sputnik International
Two main Russian opposition parties have suggested that both Dmitry Medvedev, the current president of Russia, and Vladimir Putin, the country's prime minister, should run in the 2012 presidential elections.

Two main Russian opposition parties have suggested that both Dmitry Medvedev, the current president of Russia, and Vladimir Putin, the country's prime minister, should run in the 2012 presidential elections.

In an interview with The Financial Times published on Monday, Medvedev said that his running for presidency simultaneously with Putin would be counterproductive.

"Vladimir Putin (both my colleague and old friend) and I represent to a great extent the same political force," Medvedev said. "In this sense, competition between us could be detrimental to the goals and objectives we have been implementing over the past few years. It would not be the best scenario for our country and for the current situation."

People's choice?

But leaders of Russia's Communists and Liberal Democrats said they believed it would be beneficial for the Russian society if some competition is introduced into the country's political process.

"Dmitry Medvedev's position is certainly a kind of signal flare for the political field, because many do believe that there may be two candidates from the [current] authorities," said Ivan Melnikov, the first deputy chairman of the Russian Communist Party and vice speaker of the Russia's lower house of parliament.

"First, this [both Medvedev and Putin running in the elections] would correspond not only to the letter of the law, but also to the spirit of the law since presidential elections are not just a choice of the program, but also of the personality," he said.

Second, he said, "this would be the most understandable option for the public, otherwise... an important part of the presidential elections will de-facto take place behind closed doors, among the elite."

Putin, who served the constitutional maximum of two terms as Russia's president in 2000-2008 and was then replaced by Medvedev, will become eligible to run for a new presidential term in 2012. Both Putin and Medvedev have said that one of them will put himself forward, but the decision is not likely to be announced earlier than in the fall, according to presidential aide Arkady Dvorkovich.

If the president says that it would be "detrimental" if both he and Putin run in the elections, citing that both of them represent the same political force, "then this means only one thing: that the most pragmatic variant is being looked for, and that the risk of losing power is seen as high," Melnikov said.

"This means that both the power of the opposition and opposition sentiments of the people are evaluated as serious, and this is not in vain," he suggested. He also said that there was no "ideal scenario" for the upcoming elections: whoever eventually puts forward his candidacy - Medvedev or Putin - part of the society will be disappointed.

Medvedev has presented himself as a more liberal part of the Russian ruling tandem, and his power largely relies on the country's liberal elites, while Putin, who is seen as a more hardline and stronger leader, enjoys more support among ordinary citizens, according to public polls.

Igor Lebedev, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia's parliamentary faction, agreed with his colleague from the Communist Party, saying: "For me, as a citizen and voter, it would be interesting if both Medvedev and Putin, as well as [Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir] Zhirinovsky and [Communist Party leader Gennady] Zyuganov ran [in the elections]."

"Then," he said, "the voter would have a real choice" and there would be intrigue in the March 2012 elections.

"Otherwise, the outcome is clear: the one who will be announced [as the candidate from the current authorities] will be elected in March," he added.

United Russia backs 'one candidate' approach

But officials from the pro-Kremlin United Russia party say the ruling tandem's decision not to run in the elections against each other is "absolutely logical."

"Medvedev and Putin are following the same political course," Andrei Isayev, the first deputy head of the United Russia presidium said. "When Putin was president, Medvedev was working in his team. There are certainly some differences between them on some tactical issues, but strategically they are like-minded," he added.

Medvedev has repeatedly denied allegations about a split in the Russian ruling tandem, which have been fueled by a series of presidential statements contradicting Putin's official position. In his interview with the Financial Times, he said thinking that "there is a widening gap between us is absolutely wrong in my view."

When asked if he though it would be fairer to give the people the right to decide on whom they want as the next president, Isayev said "let other political forces put forward brighter candidates so that the voters have a choice."

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