Source AP ©

Putin agrees to become premier

President Vladimir Putin agreed to become the prime minister if Dmitry Medvedev takes office as Russia's next president in 2008. However, Putin will not seek more power.

Putin said at the congress of the dominant United Russia party “If the citizens of Russia show trust in Dmitry Medvedev and elect him the new president, I would be ready to continue our joint work as prime minister, without changing the distribution of authority” between the positions.

Despite premier has mush less power in Russia than president, Putin will stay at power and would continue to exert his enormous influence and personal popularity to direct Russian affairs.

Putin's statement virtually ensures that the 42-year-old Medvedev, seen as business-friendly and not hawkish, will be elected March 2.

Previously. Putin said that a victory in parliamentary elections by United Russia would give him the moral right to ensure that his policies are continued. The party won the vote unquestioningly.

When Medvedev got Putin's endorsement last week, he quickly proposed that Putin become prime minister after the election. Putin had not publicly responded previously.