Putin to ensure continuity of policy post steping down : Russian P

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Moscow, Nov 14 (UNI) Russian Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov today said President Vladimir Putin took an enormous responsibility by accepting to head the list of candidates for the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, in the coming parliamentary election.

''By heading United Russia's list for the December 2 parliamentary election, the President, I believe, took an enormous responsibility to ensure the continuity of the current policy,'' Zubkov said in reports by Russian news agencies.

United Russia party is tipped to win a majority of seats in the election of the State Duma, the lower house of Russian parliament.

However, Putin's own plans after he steps down after the March 2 presidential polls are unclear.

He remains Russia's most popular leader and has rejected proposals to amend the Constitution to allow him to run for a third consecutive term.

Federation Council, upper house, speaker Sergei Mironov said today Putin could become speaker of the Federation Council after the 2008 presidential election.

''The position of Federation Council speaker will be a good position for the incumbent President after the March 2008 presidential election,'' Mironov told Interfax news agency.

''This is the position that allows Putin to control the State Duma, the government, and the country's foreign policy,'' he said.

Putin said yesterday that an overwhelming victory for United Russia in December 2 elections would give him the ''moral right'' to maintain a strong influence in the country.

But he also rebuked United Russia for lacking any clear political ideology and attracting ''all kinds of crooks'', saying he only chose it because there were no other realistic options.

Putin announced last month that he would appear on the party's national list for the State Duma elections, a decision that appeared to be aimed at boosting the party's chances and guaranteeing the popular President a power base when his second term ends in March.

The Constitution limits presidents to two consecutive terms.

''If the people vote for United Russia, whose list I lead, it means that they trust me and, in turn, means that I will have the moral right to hold those in the Duma and the Cabinet responsible for the implementation of the objectives that have been identified so far,'' Putin said in televised remarks from Krasnoyarsk.

UNI

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