President Vladimir Putin said in an interview published Tuesday that he wants his successor to pursue similar policies to his own, and that most Russians want that, too, citing what he said was a shift from "permanent crises" to stability.
"Of course, I would very much like the future head of state to continue the policy that has been conducted in recent years. Judging from opinion polls, the overwhelming majority of Russians want that, too," Putin said in televised comments from an interview with Indian media.
"I would suggest that this is no coincidence, since in recent years that we have left a situation of permanent crises and moved to a situation of political and economic stability, steady economic growth and growth of the incomes of the population," he said in the interview, which was posted on the Kremlin Web site.
High world energy prices have helped resource-rich Russia recover from its post-Soviet economic troubles and maintain strong growth since Putin came to power in 2000. His popularity has led to calls from some politicians for him to stay on after 2008, despite a constitutional limit of two consecutive four-year terms.
Putin repeated in the interview that he will not violate the constitution, but he appeared not to entirely shut the door on the possibility of a movement by citizens to keep him in power by seeking to amend it. He did not say how he would react to such a move, however, and he has said before that the constitution should not be altered to let him run again.
"I like my work ... But I cannot demand that others follow the law if I myself violate laws and, first of all, the main law of the country, the onstitution," Putin said. Asked whether there was a chance that Russian citizens would seek to amend the constitution to keep him in power, he said that was a question for Russian citizens, reports AP.
While he has stressed he intends to step down, Putin has also indicated he will choose a favored successor ahead of the vote. Loathe to create the appearance that the Kremlin will force a candidate on Russian voters, however, he said: "I am sure our citizens will be able to distinguish a decent, capable person from the big talkers, windbags and idlers. And as in any democratic country, the final choice is up to the citizens of Russia."
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