Vladimir Putin, Russia’s prime minister, dropped his strongest hint so far on Friday that he might try to return to the Kremlin and run in the 2012 presidential election.
Speaking to foreign academics and journalists, he said that he and President Dmitry Medvedev, his protégé, would together decide who would stand for the presidency after Mr Medvedev’s term ended.
Mr Putin installed Mr Medvedev as his successor when he stepped down as president last year after two terms in office. Most Russians believe that even though the prime minister is formally subordinate to the president, Mr Putin remains Russia’s most powerful man.
Dismissing suggestions that there might be a contest over the presidency, Mr Putin said: “There was no competition between us in 2007 and we won’t have any in 2012.”
I guess the lack of competition has been decreed, then.
The following is apparently a favorite joke in Russia (and not without reason):
“Putin and Medvedev are customers in a restaurant. After Putin orders a steak, the waiter asks him, “And the vegetable?” Putin responds: “He’ll have steak too.”
All jokes aside, we really need a policy to take into account and deal with the lack of transparency that is inherent in Russia’s approach to government. Alas, we don’t seem all that willing to acquire one.