March 29, 2009 / 1:26 PM / 10 years ago

Medvedev insists he's the boss in Russia

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he alone rules Russia and not former President Vladimir Putin, in unusually direct language during an interview with the BBC aired on Sunday.

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev is seen talking to BBC presenter Andrew Marr during an interview at the official residence near Moscow in this undated handout photograph received in London on March 29, 2009. REUTERS/Jeff Overs/BBC/Handout

Analysts have been skeptical 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 2008.

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.

Reporting by Conor Sweeney; Editing by Myra MacDonald

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