Author`s name Alex Naumov

Vladimir Putin may become Russian president again in 2012

Russia’s Just Russia Party will nominate Vladimir Putin for president in 2012, the speaker of the Federation Council (upper house of parliament), Sergei Mironov told an audience of editors-in-chief of the leading mass media in Bashkortostan’s capital Ufa on Monday.

“Since the president has made up his mind not to contest a third presidential term, our party will be prepared to nominate Vladimir Putin for president in 2012,” Mironov said.

The Federation Council speaker is certain that Russia’s political system will undergo fundamental change over several years to come, Itar-Tass reports.

“I have no doubt that in 2008-2009 we shall amend the Constitution and extend the presidential term of office from the current four years to five, or even seven,” Mironov said.

Russia's 1993 constitution limits presidents to two consecutive terms, and Mr Putin has repeatedly said he will not change that.

But it has no bar on former presidents returning after a gap.

Mr Mironov was quoted as saying last week that the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, southern Russia, would be opened by President Putin, who would by then be back in the Kremlin.

Mr Mironov last year founded the Just Russia party as a second, left-leaning, pro-Kremlin party alongside United Russia, the established, centrist, pro-Putin party.

In March the Just Russia leader, a Putin associate from St Petersburg, the country's second city, made a high-profile call to change the rules to allow Mr Putin to stand again in 2008.

He later withdrew the call, saying the president had made it clear he wanted to stand down, but called for presidential terms to be lengthened.

Mr Putin told foreign journalists in June he backed Mr Mironov's idea of extending term limits.

The possibility of a Putin return has gained currency, with Vyacheslav Nikonov, a political analyst close to the Kremlin, saying repeatedly in recent appearances that although "the next president's surname will not be Putin", the president could return subsequently.

"We are not at the end of the Putin era, the Putin era is just beginning," said Mr Nikonov. He added that only in 2026 would Mr Putin reach the age that John McCain, campaigning for the US Republican presidential nomination, is now.

Dmitry Medvedev, first deputy prime minister and one of two frontrunners to succeed Mr Putin, last week told foreign reporters Russia could learn from the west that politicians' careers need not end on leaving high office, reports.

Source: agencies

Prepared by Alexander Timoshik