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Putin, Medvedev Shown Fishing as 2012 Vote Decision Looms

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin were shown fishing together on the Volga river as uncertainty persists about which of them will run for the Kremlin next year.

The two men, both wearing white trousers with beige shirts, spent a day off on the Volga river in the black-caviar producing region of Astrakhan. Photos posted yesterday evening on the Kremlin website show Medvedev at the wheel of a speedboat and holding a fish. Putin is pictured in the background with a fishing pole.

Neither has ruled out running for president next year. Medvedev, a 45-year-old former corporate lawyer picked by Putin to replace him in 2008, has promised to loosen political controls if he wins a second term. Putin, a 58-year-old former KGB colonel, stepped down after serving two consecutive terms, the maximum allowed by the constitution.

The leaders say they plan to decide together who will run for the office. Medvedev has said a decision will be made soon, while Putin said making it public too early would derail the system of government which since 2008 has been based on a formal dual leadership

People’s Front

Putin formed the All-Russia People’s Front in May to rally support for his ruling United Russia party. The premier, who has remained at the center of power as prime minister, leads Medvedev in opinion polls.

Medvedev today held meetings with fishermen and discussed the Volga fishery industry, including sturgeon breeding.

Environmental damage and poaching represent a serious threat for sturgeons, whose population in the Volga has fallen by 99 percent in 15 years, Andrei Krayniy, head of the Federal Fisheries Agency, said during a meeting in Astrakhan.

Russia banned black-caviar exports in 2002 because of reduced supplies of wild sturgeons. In February this year, Russian authorities issued the first export permits in nine years, allowing caviar to be shipped to Europe from sturgeons raised in fish farms.

Medvedev called on all Caspian states, including Iran, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, to take part in breeding sturgeons and to implement a moratorium on fishing wild specimens. The Caspian basin holds almost 90 percent of world sturgeon reserves, government data show.

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