Medvedev to address Putin’s United Russia

President Dmitry Medvedev will address a congress of the ruling United Russia party, headed by powerful Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, on September 23.

“I will attend the congress and address it,” Medvedev told reporters in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. He also said that he and Putin followed what he called a “long term program” in their actions.

Analysts predict that Medvedev and Putin will announce which of them will stand for president next spring after parliamentary polls on December 4. Putin became prime minister in 2008 after serving two consecutive terms as president – the constitutional limit. There are no obstacles to him seeking a return to the Kremlin in March 2012 polls.

Both Putin and Medvedev, widely seen as the junior figure in the country’s ruling tandem, have ruled out running against each other.

Medvedev also told journalists that a return to direct elections for the Federation Council – Russia’s upper house of parliament – could be on the cards.

In 2004 then-president Putin abolished governor elections in favor of presidential nominations. Governors are automatically awarded seats in the upper house.

Putin’s decision fueled Western criticism that Russia was backsliding from democracy. Putin said the move was needed to ensure stability in the country.

Critics have argued that Russia has effectively ceased to exist as a “federal state” since regional elections were abolished and the Kremlin started appointing governors.

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