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‘We have laid out a certain future so you should relax’:

Medvedev says he and Putin here to stay

RUSSIA: Russia's outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday said his job swap with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will assure a continuity of power that lasts “a long time” despite anger on the street.

Medvedev told the nation ahead of Putin's May 7 inauguration to a third term as president that he initially bristled at the idea of being viewed as the weaker link of a leadership “tandem” with his mentor Putin.

But Russia's only president to serve a single term -- a lawyer by training whose liberal leanings brought initial hopes of political change -- said he soon got used to the idea and now felt perfectly comfortable being politically wedded to Putin.

“There is nothing unusual about this,” Medvedev said in the live studio interview. “We have laid out a certain future. So you should relax. This is all for a long time,” said Medvedev.

The comments will confirm suspicions among some liberals that Medvedev has only paid lip service to reform causes since entering the Kremlin in 2008, while in fact ensuring the preservation of the status quo.

Medvedev once famously slammed the ruling United Russia party, which he will now head as part of his September deal with Putin, saying it was “showing symptoms of stagnation.” But he conceded on Thursday that he saw nothing wrong with politicians who changed their minds.

“I have always said that my positions are never set in stone,” said Medvedev.

“I think that is normal. And those who claim to have kept the same position since they graduated from college are liars.” Medvedev's decision to trade places with the ex-KGB spy helped feed months of street protests that only abated after Putin's thumping March 4 election win.

The protest movement hopes to stage one more massive rally on the eve of Putin's inauguration before switching tactics and focusing attention on local election campaigns. AFP

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