Putin reveals the main character in 2012 presidential elections

Vladimir Putin (AFP Photo / Martin Bureau)
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, before responding to questions concerning presidential elections, said he supports President Medvedev's economic initiative outlined at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

Putin, stressing the uniformity of their positions, said he particularly supported Medvedev's rejection of state capitalism.

"This is certainly our common program, and there is no difference in positions,” he told a press conference in Paris on Tuesday. “President Medvedev was absolutely correct to focus the attention of the public and the business community on this (the need to reduce the state's role in the economy.)”

In Medvedev's far-sighted plan, he not only called for a major shake-up in the way business is done in Russia, but also for Moscow to become a major financial hub.

"Investors will seek ways to diversify their investments and whether they choose our country or not will largely depend on ourselves," Medvedev explained. "Russia must offer new possibilities, from growing consumer demand to dozens of infrastructure projects, it must show new perspectives stemming from a common economic space with our neighbors.”

When asked whether it was possible that he could have made as "radical-liberal a speech" as Medvedev did, Putin did not miss a beat, explaining that Medvedev’s program is a reflection of "our common program.”

"If you look at what I said in the recent or even in a more distant past, several years ago, you will see that all these points were formulated, and this is our common program," the Russian premiere explained.

When a French journalist asked Putin if is he was planning to run for presidency in the 2012 elections, the Russian Prime Minister drew laughter from the crowd.

“What is your name?” he asked the journalist, “you are a very persistent person”. 

The Prime Minister then spilled the beans, so to speak.

“The elections will be held strictly in accordance with the current laws and the Constitution," Putin said. "The main character at the election will not be some person or a party, but the Russian people.”

Putin plugs for Popular Front

Putin also answered questions on the Russian Popular Front, a movement that will help "revitalize the domestic political situation and to hold proper parliamentary elections."

The Russian prime minister opened his comments by stressing that the elected “dominant party” bears the responsibility for making crucial decisions in the country.

"Any political force that has been ruling for some years and dominating of course bears responsibility for all that is happening,” Putin said at a meeting with members of the Russian-French Dialogue association in the French capital on Tuesday.

Putin, employing a biological metaphor, said that those in positions of power may experience some sort of “anemia” towards problems confronting the people, adding that it may to some that “it was always so and it should be so forever."

“It seems (to the people) that the dominating political force will keep dominating…without taking much effort to tackle the current challenges," Putin added.

A participant in the meeting asked the Russian prime minister about the goals and tasks that the Russian Popular Front movement pursues.

The premier noted that any political force, moreover the ruling party, needs an inflow of fresh ideas, together with the initiators of these ideas, in order to provide “some renovation."

"This is the sense and tasks of the Russian Popular Front,” Putin stressed. “To attract people with fresh views, interesting views…who can realize and put into practice these ideas, but through the channels that United Russia had already practiced."

The premier expressed confidence that such an approach "will be beneficial to the development of a multiparty system in the political life, invigorate it, give a new boost and improve the response to the current problems of people."

The results of just the last few weeks indicate that these expectations are coming true, he noted.

Putin emphasized that the initiators of the fresh ideas being offered to United Russia approach the party themselves.

"The discussion is enrolling not just sweepingly, but quite acutely sometimes, and this gives to me the hope that the parliamentary elections, which are to be held in December 2011, will be held at the proper level," Putin underlined.

Robert Bridge, RT