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Russia's Medvedev Reminds Putin Party Who's Boss

BARVIKHA, Russia (Reuters) -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on April 8 warned the ruling party of powerful Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that its new powers to nominate regional governors should not create the illusion it can overrule the Kremlin.

Putin became the head of Unified Russia when his presidential term ended last year in what was widely seen as a bid to boost his political capital and maintain control from beyond the Kremlin.

The party's role is set to be boosted further through a proposed law that would give the majority political party in Russia's regional assemblies -- in most cases Unified Russia -- the exclusive right to nominate powerful governors.

"This decision will create unique opportunities for the party which comes with unique responsibilities," Medvedev told Unified Russia leaders at a meeting in his official Barvikha residence outside Moscow.

"But of course, it will be the president rather than the party that will make the final decision. There should be no illusions here," he said.

Unified Russia, whose coalition controls over two-thirds of votes in parliament has the power to veto the hiring and firing of prime ministers and could instigate the impeachment of the president.

Despite his alliance with Putin, Medvedev has recently shown signs of increasing independence and has suggested Russia needs a more flexible political system. He has criticized the concept of "managed democracy" and has offered less hostility to the West than Putin did.