Putin supports Medvedev as successor
By JIM HEINTZ, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 31
MOSCOW - President Vladimir Putin expressed support
Monday for first Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev
as his successor, saying that electing him president
would keep Russia on the same course of the past eight
There have been months of intense speculation on whom
Putin would support to run in the March 2 presidential
elections along with the wider question of what
Putin himself will do once he steps down.
Putin's popularity and steely control has led most
observers to expect that whomever he supports would be
certain to win the elections.
Putin had long been seen as trying to choose between
Medvedev, a business-friendly lawyer and board
chairman of state natural gas giant Gazprom, and
Sergei Ivanov, another first deputy premier who built
up a stern and hawkish reputation while defense
Although Putin is banned by the constitution from
seeking a third consecutive term in office, he has
indicated a strong desire to remain a significant
power figure. He has raised the prospect of becoming
prime minister, and his supporters have called for him
to become a "national leader" with unspecified
Putin made the statement in a meeting with
representatives of the United Russia party which is
his power base and dominates parliament and of three
other parties. The parties told Putin they all
"I completely and fully support this proposal," Putin
said, according to footage shown on state television.
Although he holds powerful positions, Medvedev
projects a mild-mannered public image and has been
widely seen as an official devoted to Putin.
Putin reinforced that perception Monday, saying that
electing Mevedev would pave the way for a government
"that will carry out the course that has brought
results for all of the past eight years."
The Russian stock market surged on the news, led not
only by Gazprom shares but also apparently boosted by
the end of long uncertainty over whom Putin would
designate as successor.
Some have speculated that Putin could eventually try
to return to the presidency a goal that could be
easier if Medvedev succeeds him, said Vladimir
Ryzhkov, a prominent liberal politician.
"If Putin wants to return in two, three years ...
Medvedev will be the person who will without a doubt
give up the path for him," he said on Ekho Moskvy
Associated Press Writer Mike Eckel contributed to this report.