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Putin says 'undecided' about future after 2018

03 march 2012, 10:49
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. ©AFP
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. ©AFP
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he has not yet decided whether he will stay in power beyond 2018, when the presidential mandate he is set to win in the weekend's elections will expire, AFP reports.

"I don't know if I want to stay for over 20 years. I have not decided this for myself yet," he told a meeting of editors of leading foreign newspapers late Thursday ahead of Sunday's presidential polls.

Putin -- who was picked by Russia's late president Boris Yeltsin as a successor in 1999 -- was elected president for two four-year terms in 2000 and 2004 and has now been in power for over 12 years.

Putin said that he "hasn't thought" about whether he would like to stay in power for another term when the new presidential term runs out in 2018, in comments posted on the government website Friday.

After a four-year stint as prime minister next to his protege President Dmitry Medvedev, Putin has decided to seek to return to the Kremlin in Sunday's elections, which he is certain to win.

The presidential mandate is now six years, due to constitutional changes that expanded the term from the four years that Medvedev has served.

Putin has publicly promised Medvedev the prime minister post under the new arrangement and denied it was a dishonest scheme cooked up behind closed doors.

"Have we lied to anyone, muddied the waters, is there ambiguity?"

"No. We have approached the voters with this offer openly and honestly, and are giving citizens a chance to decide whether they agree with it," Putin said.

Asked whether it is normal to be in power for such a long time, Putin commented: "It's normal if everything is working out, if people like it." Putin, who turns 60 this year, can under the law serve as president for two more consecutive terms, which would prolong his rule until 2024, when he will turn 72.

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