Vladimir Putin on Saturday agreed to run for the Russian presidency in 2012, almost certainly ensuring his return to the office he previously held for eight years and likely foreshadowing more years of strongman rule.
His United Russia party also approved his proposal that the current president Dmitry Medvedev take over his Putin’s role as prime minister.
Putin ruled Russia as president from 2000-2008 with a steely command that was widely criticized in the West as a retreat from democracy. Because constitutional changes have extended the presidential term to six years from four, Putin’s power is likely to be even more enhanced. If he wins two terms in a row, Putin will have been atop the Russian hierarchy for almost a quarter century.
Despite discontent among ordinary Russians with the party, United Russia exerts such an presence in the country’s politics that Putin’s election and Medvedev’s switch to the premiership is virtually ensured.