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Russian Opposition Leaders Criticize Putin's Presidential Bid

Vladimir PutinMOSCOW. Sept 24 (Interfax) - Russian opposition leaders have criticized President Dmitry Medvedev's proposal that Vladimir Putin run for president.

"Modernization in the modern world above all implies renewal of government. The reshuffle in the tandem does not imply renewal of government and has nothing in common with modernization," Yabloko party leader Sergei Mitrokhin told Interfax on Saturday.

Putin's decision to run for president was quite predictable, Mitrokhin said.

"Our position remains unchanged: Yabloko will seek to have a faction at the State Duma. If we achieve this goal, we will certainly nominate a candidate in the presidential elections to offer the Russian people an alternative to Putin's and Medvedev's rule," Mitrokhin said.

Eduard Limonov, the leader of the non-registered opposition party Another Russia, told Interfax on Saturday that Medvedev's initiative will lead to perpetuation of the current system of governance in Russia.

"The liberals fussed a lot and hoped very much for Medvedev, and here's what they hoped for. Dmitry Medvedev appoints Vladimir Putin his successor - it looks like this story will never end," he said.

Boris Nemtsov, a co-chairman of the non-registered Party of People's Freedom (PARNAS) and a former deputy prime minister, called Putin's probable presidency a disastrous scenario for Russia.

"Unchangeable rule is the worst scenario for Russia," Nemtsov told Interfax on Saturday, adding that this would lead to "capital flight, a wave of emigration, and the state's degeneration."

The opposition in Russia should do all it can to prevent the Russian political system from replaying the Belarusian scenario, Nemtsov said.

Speaking to journalists on Saturday, Nemtsov also suggested that Putin's victory in the presidential elections would mean "degradation, the economy's even greater dependence on mineral exports, and zero chances for modernization and efficient development."

Another co-chairman of PARNAS, former Primer Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, believes the system of governance in Russia will inevitably collapse if Putin becomes president. "This government's collapse is predictable and inevitable. This won't take six or five years or the period of time until the next parliamentary elections," Kasyanov told journalists on Saturday.

While Putin's nomination for president was predictable, his presidency is fraught with "a tough and absolutely unpredictable scenario for the country," Kasyanov said.

Medvedev said at a United Russia party congress earlier on Saturday that he was prepared to do some practical work in the government and proposed to the delegates that they support Putin's candidacy in the presidential elections.


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