'Putin front' may choose Kremlin candidate: official
A new political front created by Vladimir Putin may choose a candidate to run in 2012 presidential polls, a top official said Thursday, in the latest sign the Russian strongman is eyeing a Kremlin return.
Putin last week sprang a major surprise by calling for the creation of a broad coalition of political and social forces, the All-Russia People's Front, in the run-up to parliamentary elections in December.
"Of course the People's Front can nominate and serve as a basis for the future candidate for the post of the Russian president in 2012," said Sergei Neverov, a top official from the ruling United Russia party.
"But the first step is the (2011) elections in the Russian State Duma. If there is a broad coalition, if the People's Front demonstrates good results then it will become the foundation for the future candidate for the post of the Russian president," the Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.
Some observers have said the creation of the People's Front is a clear message from Putin to President Dmitry Medvedev that he wants to return to the post of head of state he held from 2000-2008.
Neverov's remarks that the People's Front could nominate Putin himself were the first remarks by any top official to publicly link the new initiative with the presidential elections.
© 2011 AFP