Seat warmer: Russia's Medvedev stepping aside for 'more popular' Putin
Dmitry Medvedev admits a deal was made in which he would hold onto the presidency until Putin was constitutionally allowed to return to office. Medvedev's supporters are not amused.
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Medvedev, who speaks English, enjoys Western rock music, and forged a good working relationship with President Barack Obama during his four years in the Kremlin, appeared somewhat hazy on the finer points of the US political fray.Skip to next paragraph
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"I read various political analyses saying things like, 'What, they are not going to both take the political stage and battle it out to the bitter end, stage a competition between themselves? How can this be?'" he said. "But you don’t see this kind of thing in any country. People who are part of the same political force choose together who to put forward and how to proceed.... Can you imagine a situation where Barack Obama, say, starts competing against Hillary Clinton? They both sought nomination as their party’s candidate for president. This kind of rivalry just wouldn’t be possible. They represent the same party, the Democratic Party, and their decisions were based on which candidate they thought would bring the best result," he said.
When Medvedev became president in 2008, he appointed Putin as prime minister. Putin hinted at the United Russia convention that he will return the favor to Medvedev when he assumes office.
Medvedev, whose pledges of reform during nearly four years in the Kremlin led to few results, said that he will strive to change the political system if he becomes prime minister.
"The government should be modernized," he said. "So if it so happens that the Russian people entrust United Russia with forming the government and if our people vote for our presidential candidate, and this government is formed by me, then it will be an absolutely new government consisting of new people."
Alexei Makarkin, deputy director of the Center for Political Technologies, an independent Moscow think tank, says that Medvedev's credibility has taken a serious hit in the past week, one from which he is unlikely to recover.
"Medvedev understands that he has disillusioned a lot of people who wished for a different development of events," Mr. Makarkin says. "And he knows he can not position himself as a lame duck. So he's in a very difficult position....
"Of course, there is some part of the electorate who will just say that authorities are authorities, we support them, and for those people Medvedev's explanation might be acceptable," he says.
"But for more demanding and skeptical voters it will not work at all.... [What they see] is that, compared to leading democratic countries, in Russia elections are merely a means to legalize decisions that have already been taken," at the top.