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Medvedev denies Putin will oversee ‘return to the past’

President Dmitry Medvedev on Saturday denied that the expected return of Vladimir Putin to the Kremlin would mark a return to Russia’s past, saying the country still needed irreversible reform.

“This arrangement is not a return to the past but a way to solve the tasks that stand before us,” Medvedev said, referring to his decision to step aside for Putin in 2012 polls and take on the post of prime minister.

Medvedev admitted for the first time that a portion of his supporters, who had pinned their hopes on him to modernise Russia, were disappointed by the decision to allow strongman Putin back into the Kremlin.

“I know that that some of my supporters — those people who had talked about the necessity of change — felt some kind of disappointment or some slight feeling of tension.”

Medvedev’s effective surrender of the Kremlin — announced at the congress of ruling party United Russia last month — was lampooned by Russia’s liberals who said he had become a lame duck and one of the weakest leaders in its history.

But the president said that Russia now needed to think “in what way we can have wholesale change of our system of state management.”

He proposed that Russia should have for the first time a “big government” while would bring together ruling party United Russia, experts and regional officials.

“And also with those who do not completely agree with us — if they are prepared for this of course.”