MOSCOW, October 18 (RIA Novosti) - President Putin said Thursday that the pro-presidential United Russia party is necessary to maintain parliament's effectiveness and current policy direction.
Speaking during his annual question and answer session, broadcast live on national TV, Putin said that, "It's extremely important that parliament remains effective beyond the 2007 elections. United Russia has been a key element in parliament's capability during the last few years. This is why I decided to head its party list," Putin said.
Putin announced during the party's October 1-2 congress that he would head the United Russia list, fueling speculation that he would become Russia's prime minister after his second, and final, presidential term expires.
The Russian president said that the 1990s had seen many populist decisions and promises made, but these had not been implemented due to "an ineffective parliament."
Putin reiterated that Russia would have another president next year. Presidential elections are set for March 2008, and under the Constitution, he is unable to stand for a third term.
The Russian leader said he is against restricting presidential powers in Russia. "I am against curbing presidential powers," Putin said. "Redistribution of executive powers in the near future would be a mistake," he said.
Putin said his now-traditional question and answer sessions were a unique form of social poll, but did not rule out that the next president would give up the practice. "I concede that the next president could choose a different form [of communication]," he said.
Putin also praised the presence of leftist and liberal opposition in parliament. "In my opinion, the presence of leftist and liberal opposition is very helpful," he said.