Medvedev advisor urges Putin against Kremlin return

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A top advisor to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday urged Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to drop any ambition of a return to the Kremlin in elections due in 2012.

Igor Yurgens, head of The Institute of Contemporary Development, told the Kommersant daily that Medvedev should stay on for a second term as president in order to implement a modernisation agenda.

Speculation has long swirled about Putin's future ambitions after he left the Kremlin in 2008 and became a powerful prime minister. The Russian strongman has never ruled out returning to the presidency.

But Yurgens, whose institute was set up by Medvedev two years ago to advise on economic policy, said that Russia needed a president who would carry out a "general modernisation that will affect all social and political processes."

"Therefore I am convinced. Dmitry Medvedev must stand in the elections in 2012 to carry out modernisation," he said.

"I am sure that Putin could win the elections with a click of his fingers," Yurgens said. "But I am equally sure that he should not put himself forward," he added.

Yurgens said Putin deserved "honour and praise" for stabilising the country in his 2000-2008 presidency and drastically improving the real incomes of ordinary Russians.

"But if stabilisation goes on for ever it leads to stagnation.

"The withdrawal of Vladimir Putin would of course be a sacrifice on his part. The rating and popular love that Putin earned during the period of stabilisation would truly be placed on the altar of the fatherland," he said.

Yurgens is seen as a key backer of Medvedev's goal of modernising Russia to wean the country off its dependence on oil and gas exports and has in the past expressed reservations about the continued power of Putin.

His comments are the latest sign of encouragement for Medvedev to stand again after the president's press secretary said in September that the project of modernisation could not be fulfilled in one presidential mandate.

But Putin also prompted excited speculation from Kremlinologists in September that he was planning to stand in the elections when he drew a comparison with four-term US president Franklin D. Roosevelt.

© 2010 AFP

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