Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is defending his decision not to seek a second term, saying that the nation likes Vladimir Putin more.
Speaking in an interview broadcast on September 30, Medvedev said that he and Putin share the same goals, but that Putin has broader public support.
"Prime Minister Putin is without a doubt the most authoritative politician in our country today, and his rating is slightly higher," he said.
The president added that he and Putin "are part of one and the same political force" and "hold very close positions ... in essence on all strategic questions of the country's development, and tactical ones, too."
Medvedev also denied Russia's presidential poll is predetermined.
"The choice is made by the people," he said. "And these are not just empty words. It is absolutely true. Any politician or his political force can lose elections, and that has happened many times in the history of our country and other countries. No one is guaranteed anything. How can it be predetermined? Let the people decide who to vote for."
Medvedev and Putin, who is now prime minister, announced at a congress of the ruling United Russia party last weekend that Putin would run for president in March elections and that Medvedev would become prime minister.
Putin stepped down in 2008 after eight years as president due to a term limit. After his hiatus, Putin is now eligible to serve another two terms as president.
compiled from agency reports