Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is seeking to return to the presidency next year, said that ordinary citizens “always have a choice” in deciding on their leaders.
Putin, 59, who has been in power since 2000 and could stay as president for another 12 years, said he wants his ruling United Russia party to keep its dominant role in the country.
“United Russia should stay the leading force in the country and the State Duma,” Putin said in a preview of an interview to be broadcast in full on three Russian state channels later today. In elections, “for the ordinary citizen, there is always a choice,” he added, according to the excerpt aired on Rossiya-24.
Putin said on Sept. 24 he’ll run for the presidency in March elections, pushing aside his protege, Dmitry Medvedev, who replaced him in the Kremlin for four years because of a constitutional ban on three consecutive presidential terms.
Two more six-year terms would give Putin 24 years at the helm in Russia, making him the longest-serving leader since the Soviet Union’s Josef Stalin.
Russia holds parliamentary elections on Dec. 4, followed by a presidential vote in March.
Putin said last week his decision to seek to retake the country’s number one job next year will strengthen Russia’s political system.
“The decision that we took with Medvedev is absolutely right and won’t weaken but will strengthen the system of government in Russia,” Putin said in an interview with Chinese state media in Beijing during a trip to China. “We are counting on the support of the electorate.”
--Editor: Andrew Davis, Alan Crosby
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