Ruling party backs Putin as next president: official
Russia's ruling party United Russia will back the candidacy of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the party's leader, in the 2012 presidential polls, a top party official said Thursday.
"As for the party's position on the 2012 elections, United Russia will orientate itself on its leader, Vladimir Putin," the deputy head of the party's ruling council Yuri Shuvalov was quoted as saying on the party's website.
"We are looking primarily at his candidacy when deciding the question of nominating a candidate from our party for the presidential elections," said Shuvalov.
Fresh speculation has broken out in the last few days about whether Putin or President Dmitry Medvedev will stand in the polls after Medvedev said in an interview Tuesday that he would make an announcement shortly.
Putin said the next day that neither man had ruled out standing, while bristling at the "fuss" over their plans.
The members of the ruling tandem have said that they would agree between themselves on which would stand as president, but recent statements by both men have been interpreted by some experts as indicating a rift between them.
According to a survey published on Wednesday by the Levada Centre independent polling agency, 27 percent of Russians would like Putin to stand in the polls next year, while 18 percent would prefer Medvedev.
A quarter of respondents in the poll, carried out last month, said they did not want either man to stand.
© 2011 AFP