Putin promises tough love as president
Russia's Vladimir Putin on Friday said his likely second presidency will almost certainly look a lot like his first: based on "a love for the Motherland" and tough security and defence.
Russia's powerful prime minister huddled with a group of Russian and Western analysts at a French restaurant outside Moscow in advance of next month's parliamentary elections and the March presidential vote.
Putin had already answered Russia's main political riddle by announcing in September his plans to swap jobs with President Dmitry Medvedev and return to the Kremlin after a 2000-2008 stint as head of state.
But the analysts tried to gauge the type of political system the former KGB agent planned to introduce for his second spell in power. Putin can conceivably remain president until 2024.
"Putin does not split in two. He is one person," Putin said in response to a question about whether his second term would look different from his first.
"There are basic things that are not subject to change, that will not change -- a love for the Motherland, the push for results ... for increasing people's fortune, and for internal and external security."
Putin's first term witnessed the state win control of all the major television stations and eliminate political parties through restrictive elections laws.
The Kremlin quickly got rid of regional elections and tightened controls further in response to a deadly series of Islamist strikes such as the Beslan school hostage crisis of September 2004.
Putin defended those policies on Friday while conceding that the system he introduced was "not ideal".
"The current model allowed us to end the civil war," Putin said in reference to the North Caucasus fighting.
"Of course our system is not ideal. We know about the critical remarks regarding this structure -- the tandem," Putin said in reference to the term he and Medvedev often use to describe their joint rule.
"But I do not know if there are ideal political systems," Putin added.
© 2011 AFP