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Medvedev leads 25-strong field for Presidency

The Presidential race is up and running with 25 candidates set to apply for the job of leading Russia. Dmitry Medvedev, backed by Vladimir Putin, remains the front-runner. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin has given up his seat in the next parliament,even though

“It’s important to maintain the efficiency of our current team, formed by the current President. So I think it’s important for the country to keep Vladimir Putin on the position of head of our government,” with these words Presidential Candidate Dmitry Medvedev set off another wave of predictions and speculation about Russia’s future.

He promised to invite Vladimir Putin to continue his political career as Prime Minister after he steps down as President.

Meanwhile the two others in the team, Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov and first deputy Prime Minister Sergey Ivanov gave Medvedev's proposal their blessing.

The Medvedev-Putin duo could bring about changes but some analysts say their first job will have to be proving their team works.

“Probably the most difficult task for the first year after inauguration will be proving that this tandem works to the satisfaction of both the elites and the general public,” political analyst Boris Makarenko said.

But there are fears that the overwhelming victory by United Russia in the Duma elections would give the party the numbers to turn the country into a parliamentary democracy giving the Prime Minister more power than the President.

For a President it may be very hard to become a Prime Minister, but I have known Vladimir Putin for many years and I know he has never been ruled by pride. He has always served his country selfishly. It may be difficult for him to take this step, but for the sake of the Russian people he should take it.

Patriarch of Moscow
and all Russia Aleksy II

However a change like that would involve amending the constitution which Putin has adamantly disapproved of.

Medvedev’s proposal has drawn vast reaction. The West is still sceptical about Medvedev's move, seeing it as an attempt to keep Putin in power, while many Russians feel it could ensure stability.

The latest political developments in Russia have done wonders to the approval rating of Vladimir Putin.

According to the Levada research Centre, in December, a record 87% of those asked said they supported the President's actions.
The sociologists connect it to Dmitry Medvedev's nomination for the post of President and his proposal to make Putin a prime minister.

Among those officially registered with the Electoral Commission is Mikhail Kasyanov, the former Prime Minister and now an opposition leader.

More applications are expected next week after major parties convene to put their candidates alongside to Dmitry Medvedev whose candidacy is backed by Vladimr Putin.

Then there is the leader of the Communist party – Gennady Zyaganov and Vladimir Zhirinovsky from the Liberal Democratic party.

World chess champion and vocal critic of President Putin – Garry Kasparov from the other Russia opposition party is running.

The opposition leaning Former head of the Central Bank Viktor Gerashchenko and former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky who's now living in the UK.

And there's also female journalist Maria Solovyenko who made headlines after flirting with Vladimir Putin during a press conference a year ago in the Far East.