Putin reaches out to youth with new agency
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Friday came out with a surprise initiative to establish a government agency to support youth in a possible attempt to broaden his support ahead of polls.
"There is a proposal to create an agency of strategic initiatives under the auspices of the government chairman to promote new projects," Putin told his United Russia party at a meeting in the city of Volgograd.
"There is a need to create a venue for constant communication, constant dialogue," Putin said to audience applause before adding that he would put one of his aides in charge of the agency's work.
"There is a need to look for new, strategic, breakthrough initiatives and new instruments with the aim of achieving development goals," he said, adding the new agency would help promote new business ideas, support start-ups and back young talent.
Russia is heading for parliamentary elections in December followed by presidential polls in March and analysts say that competition between Putin and his younger partner in the ruling tandem, President Dmitry Medvedev, is intensifying.
Many observers say that Medvedev wants to stay in the Kremlin while Putin shows no willingness to retire.
Putin remains the most popular politician in the country and enjoys broad support with the country's older generation.
His latest initiative will be seen in many quarters as an attempt to appeal to young, urban well-educated Russians who sociologists say make up Medvedev's core support group.
© 2011 AFP