Putin vows to continue liberal reforms in Russia

Moscow, March 4 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is a presidential candidate this time, has promised to continue liberal reforms in the country if elected president Sunday.

In an interview with six foreign newspapers Friday, Putin added that he was 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 government.

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.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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