Former Russian president Putin to run for another term in next election

Sunday, September 25, 2011
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin addresses the United Russia party congress in Moscow on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has proposed Vladimir Putin as presidential candidate for 2012, almost certainly guaranteeing Putin's return to office. Medvedev made the proposal Saturday in an address to a congress of United Russia, the pro-Kremlin party that dominates Russian politics. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

MOSCOW -- Vladimir Putin's decision to reclaim the presidency next year sets up the possibility that he could rule Russia until 2024 and foreshadows a continuation of the strongman rule that many in the West have called a retreat from democracy.

Although Putin departed the Kremlin in 2008 due to term limits and moved about 1.5 miles down the road to the prime minister's office, in a sense he never left at all.

He used Russia's state-controlled national TV channels to remain the country's pre-eminent political figure.

If he wins the March 4 election -- a near-certainty given his popularity and mastery of Russia's political system -- Putin will return to a presidency even more powerful than when he left. In 2012, the presidential term will be extended to six years from four. He would be eligible to serve two terms.

In nominating Putin, his United Russia party also approved his proposal that Medvedev take over Putin's current role as prime minister, the No. 2 government position.

Putin's return to the presidency would be unlikely to ease Russia's dispute with the United States over the building of a European missile-defense system and other issues. Economic pressures, however, could push Putin to pursue reforms aimed at attracting more foreign investment, analysts said.

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