Medvedev says wants 2nd term but not to run against Putin

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday he wanted a second Kremlin term but it was still early to say whether he would run for re-election in 2012, noting he could not imagine competing with Vladimir Putin.

With just nine months left before Russians will go to polls to elect a new president, neither Medvedev, 45, nor his mentor Prime Minister Putin, 58, have put forth an official bid to run amid intensifying claims from businesses and observers that the continuing uncertainty was hurting Russia's investment climate.

"I will tell you one thing: I believe that any leader who holds the post of president simply must want to run.

"Another issue is whether he will take this decision or not, this decision stands somewhat apart from his wishes," Medvedev said in an interview with the Financial Times whose full transcript was released by the Kremlin early Monday.

The interview appeared riddled with mixed messages, with the Kremlin chief saying Russia utterly needed political competition yet ruling out running against his mentor Putin in the presidential polls.

"The thing is that Vladimir Putin... and me still largely represent the same political force," Medvedev said, noting that competing with his mentor would be "hard to imagine".

"In this sense, competition between us could in fact harm those tasks and goals we have been pursuing for the past years. Therefore probably this would not be the best scenario for our country and this concrete situation."

"Participation in elections is about winning and not about facilitating the development of slogans (calling) for free competition," he said. In general, however, political competition is good and utterly needed in Russia, Medvedev added.

"In the absence of political competition the foundations of a market economy are beginning to disappear," he said.

President between 2000 and 2008, Putin had to stand down after serving two consecutive terms in office. He installed his long-time associate and former chief of staff Medvedev in the Kremlin, becoming a powerful prime minister.

Long described as Putin's place-holder, Medvedev earlier this year made several bold attempts to show he was his own man, saying in April he would soon announce whether he would run for a new Kremlin term.

Putin instantly put a damper on his protege's aspirations, saying "all this fuss" was getting in the way of work and suggesting that everyone "must hoe their plot every day like Saint Francis."

Observers say the final decision on who will run rests with Putin, whose political coalition will meet for a major convention in early September.

© 2011 AFP

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