Vladimir Putin served as the President of the Russian Federation from 1999 until 2008. Constitutional limits on a third term prevented Putin from seeking re-election in 2008, so he moved aside as Dmitri Medvedev (who remains supported by Putin) was elected President in 2008. The former President is now the Prime Minister in the Medvedev administration and is the leader of the United Russia party. With his party role and political leadership, Putin continues to be an influential politician in Russia and is still very much in the spotlight both at home and abroad. With the next Presidential election in 2012, the BBC reports (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11211997) that Vladimir Putin has not ruled out seeking another term as President. Prime Minister Putin stated that he and President Medvedev would decide on "what would be best for Russia" as the election approaches. With more then two years until the election, Putin and Medvedev are not facing any pressure to make a decision. With the United Russia in firm control of the Duma and the presidency, neither leader faces significant opposition at this time. However, could the collusion between both politicians lead to a backlash by Russians during the 2012 election? Despite frequent multi-party elections, Russia has been criticized by some NGO's as being semi-authoritarian with unfair elections. If Medvedev passed the presidential baton back to Putin, would more criticism arise, or would a decisive vote by the Russian people silence critics?
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