Medvedev: Putin should be prime minister
By MIKE ECKEL, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 58
MOSCOW - Dmitry Medvedev, the hand-picked candidate to
succeed President Vladimir Putin, called Tuesday for
Putin become prime minister after the March 2
Putin is prohibited by law for running for a third
consecutive term, but clearly wants to retain a
powerful role once he steps down. Medvedev's proposal
would provide such a role, especially if the
constitution were amended to increase the prime
minister's powers which could be done readily with
the new parliament dominated by pro-Putin politicians.
Medvedev, 42, has spent most of his career as a loyal
comrade of Putin, and his proposal for him to become
prime minister almost certainly was made with prior
consultation with the president.
"Having expressed my readiness to run for president of
Russia, I appeal to (Putin) with a request to give his
principal agreement to head the Russian government
after the election of the new president of our
country," Medvedev said in televised address a day
after Putin endorsed his candidacy.
Putin's support for Medvedev virtually ensures that he
would win the election.
Medvedev also said that after the election, Russia
must continue to pursue the policies driven by Putin
in the past eight years.
Medvedev's support for Putin's policies and his
proposal that he become prime minister were sure to
raise questions of whether he would be a genuinely
independent president or essentially a figurehead,
doing Putin's bidding.
Medvedev, who projects a milder and more sympathetic
image than the steely and often sardonic Putin,
nonetheless echoed the prickly national pride and
distrust of the West that characterize Putin's public
"The world's attitudes toward Russia has been changed.
They don't lecture us like schoolchildren. They
respect us and they reckon with us. Russia has been
returned to its overwhelming position in the world
community," Medvedev said in a three-minute statement
broadcast on state television.
He also praised efforts under Putin to restore the
country's armed forces after years of post-Soviet
neglect and underfunding, saying "Our military defense
and security have been increased."
Despite the assertion of surging military might,
Medvedev is not considered a Kremlin hard-liner, in
contrast with the others who had vied for Putin's
endorsement, chiefly fellow First Deputy Prime
Minister Sergei Ivanov.
Both Medvedev and Putin worked under St. Petersburg's
reformist Mayor Anatoly Sobchak in the early 1990s.
After Putin became prime minister in 1999, he brought
Medvedev to Moscow to become deputy chief of staff of
the Cabinet. He then moved up to become deputy chief
of staff for the president, was appointed to head the
board of state natural gas giant Gazprom in 2002 and
became full presidential chief of staff in 2003.
In 2005, Putin named him a first deputy prime
Associated Press Writer Jim Heintz contributed to this report.