Bloomberg News

Medvedev Says Putin ‘Most Authoritative,’ Popular Russian Leader

September 30, 2011

Sept. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stepped aside in favor of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin because his predecessor is the country’s “most authoritative” politician and enjoys a higher approval rating.

Russia’s two top politicians are more interested in “political results” by winning at the polls than “satisfying their ambitions,” Medvedev said in an interview with the country’s biggest television channels, according to a transcript e-mailed by the Kremlin. The interview was his first since he backed Putin at a United Russia congress Sept. 24.

Medvedev and Putin ended years of speculation about which of them will run for president by agreeing last week to swap places after presidential elections in March. The president, who was asked by Putin to lead the ruling United Russia party into December parliamentary elections, said he was prepared to head the government should the party perform well in the Dec. 4 vote.

“We represent, in fact, one and the same political force,” Medvedev said in the interview. “I pay attention to the fact that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is no doubt, at present, the most authoritative politician in our country, his rating is somewhat higher. No one talks about it for some reason but these are practical and very important things that any politician has to take into account if he wants to be useful to his country and not elbow each other.”

Medvedev defended the country’s electoral process, saying “the choice is made by the people.” Putin engineered Medvedev’s succession in 2008 by handpicking the younger man after serving the legal limit of two consecutive terms.

“Any public figure can let an election slip away, together with his political movement,” Medvedev said.

--Editor: Paul Abelsky

To contact the reporters on this story: Lyubov Pronina in Moscow at lpronina@bloomberg.net; Ilya Arkhipov in Moscow at iarkhipov@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net


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