Putin targets lone 'dissident' at party congress
Vladimir Putin on Saturday sought out a lone "dissident" who was the only delegate out of almost 600 people to vote against his ruling party's decision to put his protege Dmitry Medvedev at the top of the party list for upcoming parliamentary polls.
The ruling United Russia party overwhelmingly supported the make-up of the party list for December 4 elections which Medvedev agreed to head after he proposed Putin should take over from him as president in next March's election.
A total of 582 people voted in favour and none abstained. But one mystery delegate voted against.
Apparently startled by the boldness of the lone delegate, ex-KBG agent Putin said: "And where is this person? Where is this dissident?"
When no-one in the audience raised his hand, he added: "Too bad. He should have shown his face."
Ending months of uncertainty over which of the men would run for the country's top job, Putin swiftly accepted Medvedev's proposal to run for president.
In a carefully choreographed job swap, Medvedev said he was ready to head a Russian government under a Putin presidency.
United Russia is frequently criticised by its opponents for taking a role in Russian society that increasingly resembles that of the Soviet-era Communist Party.
© 2011 AFP