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Could Vladimir Putin 'Retake' the Russian Presidency?

Could Vladimir Putin 'Retake' the Russian Presidency?

"...Medvedev can't stop Putin from coming back. And Putin wants to be president again."

"Putin decides to retake presidency."

That's the headline in The Australian from Sunday. Citing "highly placed sources," the paper reports former Russian President Vladimir Putin -- who's the current prime minister -- has decided to run for president once again against his protege and current president of three years, Dmitry Medvedev. And judging from the paper's headline, it's all but certain he'll "win:"

Insiders familiar with both leaders said Mr Putin, who served eight years as president before becoming Prime Minister three years ago, had begun to lose confidence in Mr Medvedev's loyalty.


The sources said recent criticism by Mr Medvedev had made Mr Putin suspicious. "Putin will run for president. He's made up his mind for good. Rumours that he's still weighing his options are false," said one source.

"There's mounting tension between Medvedev and Putin. The view in Putin's camp is that Medvedev has started behaving with too much arrogance and wants to challenge him. Putin is starting to doubt his loyalty."

The Russian constitution allows the president to serve no more than two consecutive terms. Mr Putin stepped down in 2008 and handed the reins to Medvedev on the tacit understanding that he could come back next year if he wished.

At first Mr Medvedev was regarded as a puppet. He even took to imitating Mr Putin's distinctive macho stride and speaking style. But three years later, Mr Medvedev, who at 45 is still Russia's youngest leader in more than seven decades, is understood to be reluctant to step aside for Mr Putin.

"It's the classic tale of the pupil trying to overtake his master," one Kremlin source told the paper. "Putin's camp thinks Medvedev is getting too cocky while the President and his people say it's time for the old man to retire."

But in the end, another source says, it is a done deal:

"The difference is simple: Putin can ask Medvedev to step aside. No matter how reluctantly, he'll oblige. But Medvedev can't stop Putin from coming back. And Putin wants to be president again."

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