Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is a presidential candidate
this time, has promised to continue liberal reforms in the country if
elected president on Sunday.
In an interview with six foreign newspapers on Friday, Putin added that he
is still unsure if he wanted to remain in the Kremlin beyond 2018.
Putin talked to the editors-in-chief of France's Le Monde,
Britain's The Times, Italy's La Repubblica, Germany's Handelsblatt,
Canada's The Globe and Mail and Japan's Asahi Shimbun
newspaper in his Novo-Ogaryovo residence near Moscow.
Asked if he was going to "tighten the screws" on Russia's opposition if he
returned to the Kremlin, Putin said: "Where do these fears come from? We
are not planning anything like this. We are doing just the opposite. Our
proposals are aimed at launching dialogue with everybody, both with our
supporters and critics."
Outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev "has just introduced an entire package
of laws to parliament which would liberalise our political system," he
said, adding that continuing those reforms will be the duty of the next
Putin also confirmed his plans to appoint Medvedev as prime minister
should he win the March 4 vote.
"The offer to Medvedev to head the government is explained by the fact
that he himself has initiated a range of positive processes, both in our
economy and in the political sphere, designed to strengthen democracy in
the country," he said.
Last September, Putin and Medvedev announced their plans to swap jobs
after Medvedev's presidential term expires in 2012.
Putin said the plans were agreed four years ago when he picked Medvedev as
his successor on the presidential post.