RUSSIAN PRESIDENT Dmitry Medvedev defended his decision not to seek a second term in an interview broadcast today, saying that the nation likes Vladimir Putin more.
Medvedev told Russian television stations that he and Putin share the same goals, but acknowledged that Putin has broader public support. “Putin undoubtedly is the most authoritative politician in our country, and his ratings are higher,” he said.
Medvedev and Putin, who is now prime minister, announced over the weekend that they would swap places. Putin stepped down in 2008 after eight years as president due to a term limit, but he has continued to call the shots and is certain to win March’s presidential election.
While state-controlled national TV have given ample coverage to both leaders, Putin has been far more astute in using television to cultivate his image as Russia’s most powerful person, riding a horse bare-chested through the mountains, swimming the butterfly stroke in a Siberian river and driving motorcycles. The IPad-toting and Tweeting Medvedev looks boyish compared to his steely-eyed mentor.
Gallery: Medvedev and Putin at work and at play: