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Medvedev speech starts election campaign

Dmitri MedvedevDmitry Medvedev's presidential address on Tuesday was the first step on the 2012 election trail.

Analysts in the Russian media almost unanimously hailed the 73-minute speech as the opening shots of the presidential campaign due in 18 months time.

Style over substance

It wasn't what Medvedev said, it was the way he said it, that impressed many. President of National Strategy Institute Stanislav Belikovsky told Moskovsky Komsomolets that it was not the content of the address, but the manner in which it was made: "Dmitry Medvedev made clever intonations, pauses, placed accents in his speech, clearly indicating that he is the permanent master of the country and is going to run for president in 2012."

Music for the masses

Some experts say that this year's address, with its focus on children and their problems, was an attempt to reach the Russian people. For the majority of families in the country children are an ever-present issue.

The address was a "pre-election speech of the presidential candidate" and the topic of children is "advantageous in the eyes of the electorate," director of the International Institute of Political Expertise Yevgeny Minchenko told Gzt.ru.

Bombs and bulletins

Medvedev's words on arms race raised some eyebrows. "Is it a suicide threat? The USSR broke down and died because of the arms race. We are buying ships from France and planes from Israel; the USA's military budget is bigger than that of the rest of the planet; Chinese human resources are endless," MK journalist Alexander Minkin wrote.

As for the suggestion to sell state-owned media, Komsomolskaya Pravda cited Medvedev's aide Arkady Dvorkovich, who liked the idea.

"It is now a useless waste of money," he said. "They should be sold, but the time scale is not yet set. I am not saying that everything should be sold in one month. Nothing good will come off it if they end up in the hands of dishonest investors, for example."

Online response

After the speech, which lasted 1 hour 13 minutes and was interrupted by applause 28 times, Medvedev tweeted his thank you for listening.

"Thanks for all the attention to my address. Opinions may vary, but I'm glad it hasn't left you indifferent. Am in Astana for today's summit."

Less-famous bloggers were also happy to hear Medvedev talk about children. One twitter user garipov_radik had suggested that the President mention children in his speech and commented afterwards. "We were listening to the address with all the family. We were glad to hear our suggestion of providing land for families with children FOR FREE. Great!"

Putin tightlipped

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, widely expected to contest the 2012 election himself, spoke about the campaign in an interview with Larry King due to be screened on CNN early on Thursday morning.

And he restated the familiar official position that the ruling tandem would reach a decision between themselves about who should run for president next time around.

Putin held the top job from 2000-2008, but did not contest that year's election because the constitution does not allow three consecutive terms in the Kremlin.

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