Putin refuses to rule out return to Kremlin

By Ulf Mauder

MOSCOW – Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Monday refused to close the door on speculation that he might seek to return to Russia’s Kremlin as the nation’s president in 2012 elections.

Speaking to a group of Western political scientists and journalists in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, he said the 2012 elections would proceed lawfully.

But he refused to make any firm predictions.

“It is too early to talk about it. Everyone should just do their job,” the Interfax news agency quoted him as saying when asked about his division of political power with President Dmitry Medvedev.

“Each of us does our job and, from my perspective, does it effectively,” he added.

After recent media-friendly appearances, commentators had begun to speculate that Putin might soon be starting his campaign for Russia’s highest office, a position he held through 2008.

He had to give up the post because the Russian constitution does not allow for more than two successive terms.
When Putin departed, he designated Medvedev as his successor, although the president is technically elected by the people.

However, the constitution does not rule out a third term after a break. Both Medvedev and Putin have repeatedly said that they will agree together who will run for which position in 2012.