Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has defended his controversial decision to step down as Russian president next year in favour of Vladimir Putin, explaining that his mentor and rival is simply more popular than him.
Time's up: It appears Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is telling PM Vladimir Putin that his term as president is done and that Putin should take his place. Pic/AFP
In an interview on state TV, Medvedev said that Putin, currently the prime minister, enjoyed a higher popularity rating and was more authoritative than him.
"Prime Minister Putin is unquestionably the most authoritative politician in the country right now and his rating is somewhat higher (than mine)," he said.
"For some reason, nobody is talking about that. But in fact these are practical and very important questions that any politician who wants the best for his country needs to take into account."
A poll by the independent Levada polling agency earlier this month showed that Putin enjoyed an approval rating of 68 per cent, while Medvedev's rating was slightly lower at 62 per cent.
Medvedev's comments seemed like a calculated response to criticism of his decision not to run for a second presidential term. He said last Saturday that he would pass the presidency back to Putin who has held it twice before and was ready to take on the prime minister's job instead.
The admission disappointed many of Medvedev's supporters. Russia faces parliamentary election in December and a presidential poll in March but most analysts agree that the results are now preordained with Putin's United Russia party set to sweep the board in December and Putin likely to clinch a third term in the Kremlin in March.
68% Putin's approval ratings in a recently conducted poll