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Medvedev Insists He's The Boss In Russia

Polls show most Russians think former President Vladimir Putin, not Dmitry Medvedev (pictured), is still the real power in the country.
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said that he alone rules Russia, and not former President Vladimir Putin, in unusually direct language during an interview with the BBC aired on March 29.

Analysts have been sceptical of Medvedev's ability to govern independently of Putin, while polls show most Russians think the former president is still the real power in the country.

"I am the leader of this state, I am the head of this state, and the division of power is based on this," Medvedev said.

Medvedev made no direct reference to the so-called power tandem between himself and Putin, now Russia's prime minister.

In earlier interviews, Medvedev frequently referred to the good personal relations between the two men as a mechanism to smooth out any problems that arise between their officials.

"Mr. Putin is the prime minister of the government, this is very difficult, with a lot of work. But the major decisions in the name of the state are taken by the president, this is an obvious thing," Medvedev said.

With Russia's economy facing growing strains, local analysts have started to question the sustainability of the two-man tandem that Putin built to share power with his protege, Medvedev, who took office in May.

But Medvedev did not make any criticism of Putin, who officially answers to the president and is responsible for mostly internal economic and social issues.

When asked if he would characterize himself as the good cop to Putin's bad cop, Medvedev replied that they are "both good cops."

A poll published last month by the independent Levada center showed that 12 percent of Russians believe Medvedev holds real power while 34 percent say Putin is in charge.