Medvedev defends plan for Putin return

Updated: 2011-09-30 16:35


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MOSCOW - Russian voters will ultimately decide who leads the country, President Dmitry Medvedev said in comments broadcast on Friday, defending a plan for a job swap designed to put Prime Minister Vladimir Putin back in the Kremlin next year.

"The choice is made by the people, and these are not empty words -- that's absolutely the way it is," Medvedev said in an interview with Russia's three leading television channels.  

"Any political figure can fail in an election, as can his political force ... Nobody is insured against anything," Medvedev said. "What predetermination?"

Last weekend he and Putin revealed their plan to switch roles, with Putin running for a six-year term as president in a March 2012 vote and Medvedev taking his place as prime minister.

Both leaders said they had agreed on the plan years ago.  

"Only people, only our citizens can place the final accents by voting for a given person or political force or rejecting it." Medvedev said. "That is democracy." Medvedev's comments were released hours before the full interview.

The presidential vote follows three months after a December 4 parliamentary election in which United Russia hopes to maintain its constitutional two-thirds majority in the 450-seat State Duma, the lower house.