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Putin to have final word on United Russia party presidential candidate

Vladimir PutinMOSCOW, April 18 (RIA Novosti)-Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will have the final word in support of a 2012 presidential election candidate from the United Russia ruling party, lower house parliament speaker Boris Gryzlov said on Monday.

"Putin is the founder and unconditional leader of our party and the position he would stick to would be a priority for us," said Gryzlov, who is also the head of the United Russia's Supreme Council.

Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin earlier proposed to hold primaries within the United Russia to choose among two main candidates from the party, who are Prime Minister Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev.

Former president Putin and current President Medvedev, who succeeded him in 2008, have repeatedly said that they will make a joint decision on which of them will stand for the 2012 elections depending on the existing political and social situation in the country.

Last Friday, Putin said at a meeting with members of the party they should focus on the upcoming parliamentary elections rather then discuss who will run in the 2012 presidential polls.

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