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Putin Is Unlikely to Run for Kremlin, United Russia Adviser Says

Vladimir Putin is unlikely to contest next year's presidential election as he aims to carve out a role as national leader, according to an adviser to the prime minister's ruling United Russia party.

President Dmitry Medvedev, handpicked by Putin to succeed him four years ago, will probably seek a second term, the Petersburg Politics Foundation said in an e-mailed report today.

"Putin is strengthening his right to rule without a formal status as president or prime minister so he can dodge problems as a leader of a popular front and simply as a leader of the nation," Mikhail Vinogradov, head of the research group and member of an advisory board at Putin's United Russia party, said today in a telephone interview.

Russia will elect a new parliament Dec. 4, three months before March's presidential vote. Putin, who has remained at the center of power since relinquishing the presidency, leads Medvedev in opinion polls. He stepped down in 2008 after serving the maximum two consecutive terms permitted by the constitution.

In May, Putin formed the All-Russia People's Front, a nationwide coalition of supporters, as backing for United Russia dwindled. The party's popularity has slipped to about 40 percent after it won almost two-thirds of the vote four years ago.

While Putin and Medvedev have said they will decide together which of them will run for the Kremlin in 2012, the president's advisers have urged him to seek the endorsement of United Russia, which holds a congress in Moscow Sept. 23-24, to secure re-election.

Medvedev has made fighting graft, improving the rule of law and cutting the state's role in the economy cornerstones of his presidency. He has clashed with the prime minister this year over foreign policy, and Medvedev supporters are urging him to run regardless of Putin's wishes.

The importance of "rejuvenating" the ranks of the political elite and maintaining "efficient communications" with foreign leaders are among the main reasons the president will seek to return to the Kremlin, Vinogradov said.

Article ©2011 BLOOMBERG L.P. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED; article also appeared at www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-19/putin-is-unlikely-to-run-for-kremlin-united-russia-adviser-says.html

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