In a well choreographed job swap,Russian strongman Vladimir Putin is set to return as president for a third term in March 2012 after a key endorsement from incumbent Dmitry Medvedev,who will run for premiership this year.
Putin,who is currently country’s prime minister,said he would run for Russia’s presidency next year,almost certainly ensuring he would retake the office and foreshadowing years more of a strongman rule that many in the West had called a retreat from democracy.
The announcement ends months of speculation who will lead the country,as it sets up the possibility that Putin,58,could rule Russia until 2024.
“I think it would be fair if the congress approved Vladimir Putin’s candidacy for the Russian presidency,” he said amid standing ovation at the United Russia party congress televised live by the state-run Rossiya 24 channel.
United Russia,which Putin leads,dominates the country’s politics and observers say his return to the Kremlin is now all but guaranteed.
He had already served two terms as president before Medvedev,46,took over in 2008. Putin was barred by the constitution from running for a third consecutive term.
“I want to thank you for the positive reaction to the proposal for me to stand for Russian president,” Putin told delegates after Medvedev suggested he should be a candidate.
“For me this is a great honour.
“I am certain that United Russia will win,and based on popular support,Dmitry Anatolyevich will be able to create a new,effective,young,energetic management team and head the government of the Russian Federation,” Putin said.
Medvedev had earlier accepted a proposal that he head the party’s list of candidates in the elections and spoke of his “readiness to assume practical work in the government” in the future.
President Medvedev,who agreed to Prime Minister Putin’s proposal to lead the ruling United Russia to the December 4 Duma (lower house) polls,announced his decision to back his candidacy for the Russian presidency in March 2012.
Speaking at the party congress in the former Lenin Olympic Stadium here,Medvedev announced plans to get down to “practical work in the government,formed by the parliamentary majority.”
Putin,who after serving two consecutive four year terms stepped down in 2008 under the constitutional constraints,will now be able to retain power for another 12 years as Medvedev had amended the constitution by extending the presidential term to six years and lower house – the State Duma to five years.