Medvedev Rules Out Competing Against Putin for Presidency

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he won’t run against President Vladimir Putin in the next presidential election, two months after describing how he struggled to relinquish the Kremlin.

“I believe this wouldn’t be correct, I think this would be impossible,” Medvedev said today in an interview with Ryan Chilcote on Bloomberg Television at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “We are part of one political force, why would we compete against each other?”

Medvedev, 47, stepped aside last year as president to allow the return of Putin, 60, who held power as prime minister for four years after completing the maximum two consecutive terms allowed by the constitution. Putin is eligible for a second six-year term at the next presidential election in 2018.

Medvedev, who said in November that he’d struggled to give up the Kremlin, has shown signs of conflict with his mentor, including a disagreement over the state’s role in the economy.

His aim now is to reassure Putin about his loyalty because he’s concerned he may be fired, according to Sergei Markov, a former lawmaker from the ruling United Russia party and vice-rector of Moscow’s Plekhanov Russian University of Economics.

‘Precarious Position’

“Medvedev is in a very precarious position,” Markov said in a phone interview. “On the one hand he has a promise from Putin about his role as prime minister, but there are some very powerful forces that see him as a threat.”

Medvedev has repeatedly said he may run for the presidency in the future, again declining to rule it out in today’s interview. Some allies of the prime minister favor him challenging Putin in 2018, Markov said.

Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, a close associate of Medvedev, is at loggerheads with former Deputy Premier Igor Sechin, a one-time Soviet spy and longtime ally of Putin, over the planned $55 billion takeover of BP Plc’s Russian venture by state-owned OAO Rosneft, which Sechin heads.

In a September interview with the Vedomosti newspaper, Dvorkovich said he opposed the Rosneft acquisition because it served “no useful purpose” to expand any state company’s role in the economy. Putin, who said in 2011 that Russia must avoid liberal “experiments” to ensure sustainable growth, personally blessed the deal, which would create the world’s largest publicly traded oil company by crude production and take the government’s share of the economy to more than half.

Government Role

Russia will reduce its Rosneft holding to less than 50 percent when the market situation is favorable, according to Medvedev, who said a blocking stake of 25 percent plus one share is sufficient “for the state to control key sectors.”

Sechin has opposed the sale of Rosneft shares for the sake of cutting the state’s stake and urged any decision to be based on price. He described the oil producer as “our teddy bear,” inspiring possessive feelings like a child’s for a favorite toy, the Financial Times reported after an Oct. 5 meeting with investors in London.

Medvedev also said that an end to state-run OAO Gazprom’s monopoly on natural gas exports was “potentially possible” as long as Russia maintained its revenue from sales of the fuel. Gazprom, the world’s largest gas exporter, controls a quarter of the European market.