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Russia needs to know its next president - analyst

Dmitri Medvedev and Vladimir PutinIt's been the burning question at every press conference Russia's ruling tandem has given­ but dead-batting the issue of the next president is going past its sell-by date.

After two years of queries about who out of President Dmitry Medvedev and PM Vladimir Putin will run for the top job in 2012, an increasingly radicalized Russia needs a clear idea of what the future holds.

At least, that's the view of Igor Jurgens, head of the INSOR research centre.

And he claims that without a clear answer soon Russia's increasingly anxious elite might start to flee the country.

Balance threatened

In an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda, Jurgens explained that the balance of conservative Putin and pro-Western Medvedev was a good way of reassuring all factions.

But in the light of the recent upsurge in nationalism he added that it could not be a permanent solution.

"Society is becoming radicalized," Jurgens warned. "The uncertainty about who will go to the polls is making the elite nervous.

"Some of them might decide to take their money abroad ­ just in case ­ and others might get carried away with some radical theories."

Master and apprentice

Many observers have assumed that Putin would return to the presidency in 2012 after sitting out a four-year term as required by Russia's constitution.

But officially neither he nor Medvedev have committed themselves to run in the next presidential poll ­ though it seems unlikely they would go head to head before the electorate.

Medvedev's address to the Federal Council late last year was seen by many as his opening shot in a potential election campaign.

But his reaction to the December riots prompted questions about his willingness to lead in times of crisis.

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