Film director to head Putin election campaign
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, whose party lost support in parliamentary elections, Thursday named a top Russian film director to head his campaign to return to the Kremlin in March presidential polls.
Stanislav Govorukhin, who directed the classic Soviet television series "The Meeting Place Cannot be Changed", will mastermind Putin's bid to reclaim the presidency in the elections on March 4, 2012.
"I want the election campaign of your humble servant not to have a technological or administrative structure but to be of open character," he told supporters in a meeting broadcast on state television.
Govorukhin agreed, describing the appointment as a "great honour". Modestly, the director said he could not guarantee he was the ideal choice or that he had the most experience.
Analysts have said that Putin's path back to the presidency now looks considerably more thorny than one week ago after his United Russia party lost support in parliamentary elections and the opposition staged protests against alleged vote rigging.
Putin on Thursday blamed the United States for provoking the protests by giving a signal to the opposition and called those who break the rules to be punished with the full force of the law.
Govorukhin had spoken out in favour of Putin's bid for the presidency at a congress of the ruling United Russia where he was formally nominated. "Russia needs a leader -- brave, strong, and smart," he said then.
Putin served two terms in the Kremlin from 2000-2008 before handing over to his protege Dmitry Medvedev. He announced in September he would bid for a historic third Kremlin term, with Medvedev becoming prime minister in a job swap.
© 2011 AFP