Think tank urges Russia's Medvedev to run in 2012

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 21, 2011 11:04 AM
Think tank urges Russia's Medvedev to run in 2012

By Maria Tsvetkova

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian think tank published a proposed campaign platform for its chairman, President Dmitry Medvedev, urging him on Tuesday to seek re-election by calling for broader democracy and reform of the security services.

The pamphlet, by the Institute of Contemporary Development (INSOR) builds on Medvedev's attempts to portray himself as a reformer, suggesting he restore popular elections of regional governors and abolish mandatory military service by 2018 if re-elected.

Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have said they will decide together who should run for president in an election expected in March 2012. But by suggesting a campaign platform, the think tank could be testing the water among the political elite and encouraging support for a Medvedev bid.

"This is our attempt to create a campaign program ... for President Medvedev," INSOR head Igor Yurgens said at a presentation of the 95-page booklet titled "Attaining the Future: Strategy 2012."

"We hope the chairman of our board of trustees will decide to run in the election."

INSOR has no formal policymaking role and Yurgens has no position in the presidential administration, but he is seen as one of the architects of Medvedev's drive to modernize Russia's energy-dependent economy.

Most political analysts say the decision over who will run for president will be made by Putin, who was president from 2000-2008. Putin, Russia's paramount leader, steered Medvedev into the Kremlin when he faced a constitutional bar on a third straight presidential term.

A Kremlin spokesperson declined to comment on the publication.

Medvedev has vowed to diversify Russia's economy, which is reliant on oil and depends largely on aging Soviet machinery and infrastructure, but analysts say he has made little progress.

Putin presided over an economic boom fueled by high oil prices, but economic analysts say he failed to plough money into modernizing Russia's manufacturing base and critics say he has rolled back democracy and suppressed dissent.

Medvedev and Putin say they share the same goals and get along well. But the pamphlet's publication reflects growing competition between their camps.

The pamphlet says the next president should overhaul the police and security services, which Kremlin critics say gained too much power when Putin -- a former KGB officer -- was president. Medvedev has pressed for police reform but critics say changes have been superficial.

"A year from now we will be choosing not just between programs and individuals, but between the beginning of change and the end of hope, between the future and a new period of stagnation," it says.

In an newspaper interview last year, Yurgens urged Putin not to run in 2012, saying he should let Medvedev try to modernize Russia. Many political analysts say that Putin will stay on as prime minister if Medvedev runs for president.

(Writing by Steve Gutterman; editing by Elizabeth Piper)