Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said his mentor, Vladimir Putin, could lose next year’s presidential election.
Medvedev and Putin, the prime minister, have backed one another to switch roles, ending months of speculation over which man would stand in elections to the presidency next March.
“It is the people who make the choice, and these are not empty words,” Medvedev said in an interview with state TV channels due to be broadcast on Friday. “Any political leader can lose at the elections.”
Observers say Putin, who had already served two terms as president before Medvedev took over in 2008, is now all but certain of returning to the Kremlin.
But Medvedev – often viewed as a junior partner in Russia’s ruling duo – dismissed suggestions Putin was “predetermined” to win the polls.
“What predetermination? Let the people decide who to vote for, who has the greater authority,” Medvedev said. “That’s what democracy is all about.”