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7 Apr, 2008 13:17

Putin to become PM on May 8

Vladimir Putin is set to become Russia’s Prime Minister on May 8, according to the State Duma Chairman Boris Gryzlov. He said he's sure Putin’s candidacy will be approved as soon as it's put forward to the lower chamber of the parliament. Also, the United

Members of Untied Russia believe they won December’s Duma election largely because of Putin’s support, following his agreement to top the party’s electoral list.

Even before stepping down from office, Vladimir Putin has been bombarded with job offers. The latest comes from the head of Russia's largest political party.

“Of Course, if Vladimir Putin takes the lead of the party, it would be the best possible outcome. That's why we've been talking about that for at least four years, and we'll continue calling for that,” said Boris Gryzlov, United Russia leader and the Speaker of the State Duma.

Putin helped create the party back in 2001 and last December he put  his name at the top of the party's electoral list, helping United Russia secure a landslide victory at the last parliamentary elections. Yet when two months ago he was asked about the possibility of becoming the party's leader, he said ‘no’.

“As of now, I have no intention of leading the party,” he said at the time.

Now, the party intends to repeat its offer at its upcoming convention that both Putin and his elected successor Dmitry Medvedev have been invited to attend.

United Russia's previous gathering was rich in news. It was there that Putin agreed to take the Prime Minister's job if Medvedev was elected as president. Could it be that at the next convention he may accept yet another offer?

Viktor Sergeev from Moscow State University of International Relations thinks “that’s rather probable.”

“Being a chairman of a powerful political party, which has the constitutional majority in parliament, would give Putin a very strong political position that is not dependent on the will and intentions of the future president,” he said.

Some experts believe that if Putin indeed assumes the party's leadership it would signify a change in the country's political system.

“Russia is the only democratic country on Earth where the supreme authority is non-partisan. The reason for this was the fight against Communist Party domination by Yeltsin. In the early 1990s several laws were introduced that prohibited top government officials from being partisan, but that also dramatically weakened the political parties themselves,” said Vyacheslav Nikonov, a political analyst.

The former president joining a party may be the first step towards political parties forwarding nominations for future presidents.

Despite his vigorous support for United Russia, Putin is still not one of its members. It used to be his presidential duties that legally prevented from taking political sides. However, as Prime Minister he will be no longer bound by the promise of political impartiality, meaning he can unite himself with any political party of his choice.