Putin: too early to predict my future
Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said it was too early to predict his political future, despite swirling speculation he intends to return to the Kremlin in 2012 presidential polls.
"We need to wait for 2012, now we are only in 2010... Let's get closer to 2012 and then we will see," Putin said in an interview this week with Agence France-Presse.
Putin served as Russian president from 2000-2008 and was credited with restoring the country's self confidence after the chaos that followed the fall of the Soviet Union.
He handed over the Kremlin to Dmitry Medvedev in May 2008 after serving the maximum two terms and the new president immediately appointed his predecessor prime minister. Most analysts believe Putin still wields the real power.
Putin is allowed to stand for another term as president in 2012 but has never excluded or confirmed this possibility.
He said "we are of course already thinking about this issue with President Medvedev" but added it would be wrong to come to any agreement without fulfilling their duties in their current posts.
Putin hinted that the final outcome in 2012 would depend on their performance in their respective jobs. "How we act in 2012 depends on the results of this."
"There is nothing secret here. Everything is well known to everyone," said Putin.
He told AFP that he was satisfied with his "colossal" responsibilities as prime minister, a job which until his appointment had been invested with relatively little power.
"The importance of the decisions that are taken is very high. Therefore I like very much what I am doing now," said Putin.
Putin lavished praised on Medvedev, who served as head of Putin's presidential administration, describing him as "one of the co-authors of our domestic and foreign policy".
He also gave a rare insight into the process of decision-making between Russia's top two, describing how they speak by telephone to agree a coordinated position.
"When we feel that an imbalance is possible, we meet, discuss it, adopt a unified agreed decision and carry it out.
"There are times when he (Medvedev) simply calls up and says 'you know, I need to talk, there's this problem and I would like to hear your opinion'."
"This is a normal, natural process," Putin said.
Putin here quoted Medvedev as using the formal "vy" to address his mentor. But curiously, Putin had earlier indicated he used the informal 'ty' to talk to Medvedev.
"I don't believe it shameful to pick up the phone, call him (Medvedev) and say: 'listen, let's agree, let's consult each other," he said, using the informal second person.
Such small details are closely watched by analysts to assess the balance of power in the ruling tandem.
Analysts have said there are several possible options for 2012, including the status quo being continued, Putin becoming president and Medvedev taking a powerful post like prime minister, or even a third figure becoming involved.
Putin indicated he had not contemplated quitting politics in 2012, saying that while academic research in politics, law and economics was attractive he had "not thought concretely" about such a move.
© 2010 AFP