‘Putin could return as president in 09′

Dmitry Medvedev might resign as Russia’s president, paving the way for Vladimir Putin to reclaim his old job, a Kremlin source says.

In his first state-of-the-nation address on Wednesday, President Dmitry Medvedev proposed extending the presidential term from four to six years.

The business daily Vedomosti quoted the unidentified Kremlin source as saying that if Russian lawmakers approve the proposed amendment, President Medvedev might resign early next year.

Medvedev’s resignation could then force an early election in which the incumbent prime minister and former president, Vladimir Putin, would be eligible to run for president.

Putin, who was in power from May 2000 to 2008, would have a great chance of reclaiming the presidency thanks to his enormous popularity among Russians.

According to first deputy head of the Kremlin staff Vladislav Surkov, Putin would then be able to take office for two six-year terms — from 2009 to 2021.

The Russian paper quoted another source close to the Kremlin as saying that the Russian premier had already started his election campaign.

Meanwhile, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskovh rejected the report as ‘nothing more than pure speculation of a newspaper’.