MOSCOW, March 17, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / AFP) – A think-thank that advises President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday urged him to run for a second term in 2012 on a platform of modernising Russia that contrasts him from his mentor Vladimir Putin, AFP reported on Wednesday.
The issue of which of Russia’s two leaders will run for president one year from now has remained an open question that attracts almost daily debate.
Both Putin — who is widely seen as Russia’s de facto leader despite his official status as prime minister — and his presidential successor Medvedev have vowed not to run against each other and decide the issue in private.
But the Institute of Contemporary Development — set up by Medvedev when he came to power in 2008 — urged the Kremlin chief to come out fighting by painting a dark picture of Russia’s future under a new Putin term.
“One year from now, we will not only be choosing between programmes and personalities, but (also) between the start of changes and the end of hopes, between a future and new hard times.”
The 95-page report added that “the next election cycle still has a chance of starting Russia’s true modernisation — deep and systemic.
“Preparations for this… are well within the current president’s reach despite the massive obstacles and limitations,” the report went on.
It also warned that Medvedev’s removal from the Kremlin would see Russia return to “deepening stagnation” and “social and political anarchy”.
Medvedev has prided himself on his economic modernisation effort and Russian media interpreted the report as the first indication of how Medvedev intended to base a future campaign.
The Interfax news agency wrote in an analysis that Medvedev would be “resetting democracy” — a reference to the “reset” in political ties that Russia enjoyed with the United States in recent years.
The Vedomosti business daily said an updated version of the report will be unveiled at a May 17 ceremony whose list of invited speakers includes Medvedev himself.
But Putin’s top spokesman told Vedomosti that he did not see the publication as part of a future election campaign.
“No one has yet declared their candidacy,” Dmitry Peskov told the business daily. “It is too early. This is not the time.”
Various members of Medvedev’s inner circle have issued previous hints that the president would like to serve another term despite widespread speculation of an imminent return by Putin.
The former spy Putin was Russia’s most popular politician throughout the past decade and many analysts think the ultimate decision about 2012 rests in his hands.
Analysts also question why Medvedev would even need a programme: whichever of the two men runs is assured almost certain victory due to unrestricted media access and the dishevelled state of Russian opposition ranks.
Institute head Igor Yurgens indirectly confirmed that the report was not commissioned by Medvedev or his Kremlin aides.
“This is our attempt to present an election programme for President Dmitry Medvedev because we hope that he makes the decision and runs,” Kommersant quoted Yurgens as saying.
“No other progressive-leaning candidate has the time to promote himself.” (*)