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Medvedev raises doubts on Putin succession question

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev raised doubts Tuesday that he and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin were working together to determine who will run for president in 2012. Speaking at the Valdai conference of Russia experts in Moscow, Medvedev responded to Putin’s comments last week, when the prime minister told attendees, “We’re people of the same blood, ...

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev raised doubts Tuesday that he and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin were working together to determine who will run for president in 2012.

Speaking at the Valdai conference of Russia experts in Moscow, Medvedev responded to Putin's comments last week, when the prime minister told attendees, "We're people of the same blood, with the same political views," referring to the president. "When it comes to 2012, we'll work it out together."

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev raised doubts Tuesday that he and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin were working together to determine who will run for president in 2012.

Speaking at the Valdai conference of Russia experts in Moscow, Medvedev responded to Putin’s comments last week, when the prime minister told attendees, “We’re people of the same blood, with the same political views,” referring to the president. “When it comes to 2012, we’ll work it out together.”

“We’ll have a test to see whether we have the same blood type,” said Medvedev, indicating that he might not be a fan of Putin’s aspirations to seek a third term so soon.

Georgetown University scholar Angela E. Stent, who attended both speeches, said that Medvedev’s comments introduced even greater ambiguity into the process and were a clear signal that the two Russian leaders were not on the exact same page.

“One comes away with the impression that anything could happen in 2012,” she said in an interview with The Cable from Moscow. “It’s definitely an open question.”

Piotr Dutkiewicz, director of the Institute for European Studies at Ottowa’s Carleton University, called in from Moscow to relay an additional Medvedev quote: “I have to take my own interests into account in the potential deal [about the 2012 elections],” the president said.

Dutkiewicz said that while it was probably too early to game out the election politics, Putin clearly has the upper hand because his political ratings are higher, but Medvedev has plenty of time to prove some successes on the ground and make a run.

“Putin has all the ties with oil and gas industry, so he controls the flow of money to the Russian Federation’s coffers,” Dutkiewicz added.

This post has been updated.

Photo of Putin and Medvedev in the resort town of Sochi by DMITRY ASTAKHOV/AFP/Getty Images

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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