Putin urged not to run for president

Jan. 16, 2012 at 4:45 PM
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MOSCOW, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- One of Vladimir Putin's rivals for president of Russia says it would be "unbecoming" for him to seek a third term, a view shared by a top Russian businessman.

Presidential candidate Vladimir Zhirinovsky, along with exiled Russian business tycoon Boris Berezovsky, called for Putin, who currently is serving as prime minister, to decide against running for president, RIA Novosti reported.

Zhirinovsky, of the Liberal Democratic Party, said Monday Putin running for president would not be viewed as acceptable by international observers.

"No one can be the head of the country for more than two terms. With the exception of Argentina, former presidents do not return to their posts as it is unbecoming and means that [he] does not want to give up his power," Zhirinovsky said.

The Constitution of Russia also restricts the number of successive terms to two.

Berezovsky reached out to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church to persuade Putin not to run for president, RIA Novosti reported.

In a letter to Metropolitan Kirill, the church's patriarch, made public Monday, Berezovsky urged the church to "try to help Putin gather his wits."

"If blood is shed, Putin will be held accountable before the people, before his conscience and history. But you will answer before God," the London-based tycoon told the patriarch.

"It is in your powers today to ensure a peaceful transition of power," he said. "Help him hear the voice of the people."

Kirill's office told RIA Novosti the patriarch would ignore Berezovsky plea.

"In his televised speech Patriarch Kirill answered all questions concerning the present day situation and said that he was for dialog between authorities and opposition, for gradual, not drastic changes in course. The patriarch has answered all questions and is not going to respond to Boris Berzovsky's call," said Protopriest Vladimir Vigilyansky, the head of the patriarchate's press service.

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