Putin to retain authority after stepping down

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Moscow, Sep 21 (UNI) Russian president Vladimir Putin has hinted he will retain his influence after he steps down following the presidential elections next March.

''I have made a firm decision, long ago, from the very beginning, that no one in power should adjust power structure to himself,'' the Kremlin press service reported as the Russian president as saying yesterday at a meeting with the members of Valdai International Discussion Club, in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

''I will be here, of course. I have not finally decided for myself what to do. But whatever I do, I realise, there will be some influence,'' he said.

''These are objective matters. I do not intend to profiteer in such influence, hypertrophy its meaning, but it will exist. It will also depend on what I will be engaged in, whether it will be pure political work or anything else,'' Mr Putin noted, assuring he would not go overseas for permanent residence.

He expressed the hope that the next president would be independent and strong.

''I will not like the next Russian President to be weak,'' Mr Putin said pointing out that in the mid-term Russia would need a strong presidential administration.

The current three-layer structure of Russia's government was ''ineffective'', he added.

''It has become clear in the past three years that the current system of government is ineffective in reality,'' he stressed.

On the coming parliamentary elections, scheduled for December 2, Mr Putin said he would support the United Russia party, but he planned to make sure that a multi-party system developed in the country.

''I would like us to have Social Democrats that were politically active, not a fragment of the past in the form of Communists, but a real responsible leftist movement, a leftist party with a social-democratic ideology,'' he said.

''We should strengthen and develop a multi-party system,'' he emphasised.

He, however, said he would like pro-Kremlin United Russia party to remain a leading political force, praising its contribution to developing a legislative basis for the country's development.

UNI

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