Dmitry Medvedev has made clear he would like a second term as Russian president but said he and prime minister Vladimir Putin would not run against each other next year.
In a Financial Times interview, the president also hinted that if he won a second term, he would introduce a more competitive political system – essential to the realisation of his vision for Russia’s economic modernisation.
“Political competition is necessary for the development of the economy,” he said. Making some of his most liberal statements as president, Mr Medvedev said important features of the “managed” democracy and state-dominated economy put in place by Mr Putin, his mentor and presidential predecessor, should be reversed.
He even suggested that elections for governors of Russia’s 89 regions – whose removal was a key aspect of Mr Putin’s centralisation of power – might eventually be restored While making a strong pitch for another term, Mr Medvedev repeated that the two men would decide together who would stand.
“I think any leader who occupies a post such as president simply must want to run,” he said. “But it’s another question whether he will make that decision or not.”
He rejected speculation that both men might compete in next year’s polls as “hard to imagine”. Mr Medvedev said: “Vladimir Putin and myself – and Vladimir Putin is my colleague and an old friend – represent, to a large extent, one and the same political force.
And therefore competition between us may be detrimental to [our] tasks and goals.” The interview expanded on an address to global political and business leaders at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum that many saw as akin to a campaign speech.
His vision amounted to a rejection of “authoritarian capitalism”. In some countries there is a rather successful coexistence of market-oriented economies and limited political competition,” he said.
“This is not for us.” Mr Medvedev favoured gradually altering the rules to ensure political parties of all shades were represented in parliament.