Putin fuels presidency talk with 'New Russia' video
Ruling party United Russia on Monday posted a presidential-style video showing its leader and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin vowing to build a new Russia, fuelling speculation he plans to return to the Kremlin.
In the video, entitled "We are Building a New Russia. Vladimir Putin", the Russian strongman is shown in dynamic mode visiting schools, factories and hospitals to a film score-like soundtrack of drumming music and his speeches.
Putin is shown saying that United Russia is a "cornerstone" of the country and "we need to go forwards" as the images show a Russia of dedicated students, well-off pensioners, sparkling hospitals and a slick army.
"Attention to people is our task," is among the slogans shown on the video. Putin strides purposefully around the country and at one point gazes down thoughtfully at his realm from a plane.
The video's sudden appearance coincides with mounting speculation that Putin will stand again for president in March 2012 elections and current President Dmitry Medvedev will step aside for his mentor.
Medvedev and Putin -- who left the presidency in 2008 after two mandates to become prime minister -- have not yet made clear who will stand in the polls other than insisting they will not run against each other.
The short film "looks suspiciously like a pre-election video," wrote news site newsru.com.
"United Russia has posted a video with Putin that resembles the pre-election film of a presidential candidate," added online newspaper gazeta.ru.
United Russia, which has posted the video prominently on the front page of its website, however denied that the video was a pre-election film. Russia is also to hold parliamentary elections in December.
"The party did not order this and it is the initiative and creation of one of the United Russia members," top United Russia official Alexei Chesnakov told the Interfax news agency. He said the person was an MP but declined to reveal his identity.
Some analysts have pointed to Putin's creation of a mass group named the All Russian Popular Front -- vehemently backed by United Russia -- as the surest sign yet that he is planning a third mandate in the Kremlin.
© 2011 AFP