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Putin speech at odds with Medvedev’s plans: media

A parliamentary address by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has highlighted the growing rift between his plans and those of President Dmitry Medvedev, media said on Thursday.

“The prime minister’s report before the State Duma yesterday has once again demonstrated that his programme does not agree with the president’s message,” Vedomosti business daily said.

On Wednesday, Putin delivered an annual address to the Russian parliament’s lower house, warning against any ill-conceived liberal experiments.

“The country needs decades of sustainable calm development,” he said. “Without any jerks or ill-thought-out experiments leavened with the sometimes unjustified liberalism or, on the other hand, social demagoguery.”

His address came amid signs of increasing competition with Medvedev ahead of March 2012 presidential polls as the president presses ahead with a wide-ranging programme to improve investment and modernise Russia.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper, citing analysts, called Putin’s address conservative, adding it did not dovetail with Medvedev’s modernisation plans.

The paper cited Kremlin-connected analyst Gleb Pavlovsky as saying that Putin ruled out any idea that the economic crisis Russia had endured was the crisis of the model he promoted.

“It can be called ‘hyperconservative’,” the analyst was quoted as saying.

Kommersant daily said that Putin did not offer any “principally new” proposals.

Putin and Medvedev have in recent weeks been at pains to gloss over their differences calling them purely stylistic but observers say the nearing elections are increasingly laying bare the rifts in the ruling tandem.

Olga Kryshtanovskaya, an expert on Russia’s political elite and member of the ruling United Russia party, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta that the two leaders represented “the extreme positions of our political corridor.”

She called Putin “the left centre” and Medvedev “the right” one.

Putin and Medvedev have repeatedly said that they would not compete against each other and decide between themselves who would run in the 2012 elections.

But as Medvedev has acquired a taste for power and Putin shows no willingness to retire some analysts wonder whether the two political partners could ultimately decide to run against each other.