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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov denies plans to run for president

RIA Novosti

26/08/2006 13:18 VLADIVOSTOK, August 26 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, who is also a prime minister, denied Saturday media reports that he intended to run for president.

"When you are a defense minister and also a deputy prime minister, you have so much free time that you don't know what to do with it. This is all nonsense of course," Sergei Ivanov said.

Media reports have mooted Dmitry Medvedev, recently promoted to the post of first deputy prime minister in charge of four multibillion-dollar national projects to raise living standard, and Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, Putin's former KGB colleague, as possible candidates in the 2008 presidential campaign.

Putin said in mid-June that the name of his successor would be known as presidential elections came closer, but said it was up to the Russian people to choose a president.

The prospect of Putin staying in power for a third presidential term after his current term in office runs out in 20008 has also been widely debated in Russia, although the president himself has repeatedly said he will not run again, as the country's Constitution bans anyone from having more than two consecutive terms as president.

Putin also said he was against amending the Constitution to allow a third consecutive term. Another option that has been advanced is that Putin could take up the reins again in 2012, as the Constitution specifies only consecutive terms in office, without imposing a limit on the total number.

Despite criticism in the West over alleged democratic backsliding, Putin remains hugely popular at home, where he is credited by many for bringing relative order and attempts to reconcile the Communists and Democrats following the uproar of the 1990s.

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