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Kasyanov Says Only $30 Oil Can Stop a Putin Comeback

ReutersMikhail Kasyanov believes Putin will run for two six-year terms in 2012.

Nothing short of a collapse in oil prices will halt Prime Minister Vladimir Putin from returning as the country’s president for a further 12 years in 2012, former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said.

“I am convinced that Putin will run in 2012 for two six-year terms. A suitable function will be found for [President Dmitry] Medvedev,” Kasyanov said in an interview in his Moscow office.

Medvedev confirmed Thursday that he and Putin would together decide who would run in 2012, but Kasyanov insisted that the decision had already been made.

“Putin is the head of this team, Medvedev just plays his role. Today that role is called president, tomorrow it will be called something else,” Kasyanov said. “Putin’s support is based on Putin’s populism. There is no support for Medvedev among the people.”

Kasyanov said reports of a split with Medvedev were aimed at distracting people from Putin’s bid to become the longest-serving Kremlin leader since Josef Stalin.

Kasyanov, also a former finance minister, said Russia’s economy would likely deteriorate in the next two years as the effects of growing unemployment ripple through the economy. But he said there was little chance of political instability inside or outside of the Kremlin unless the price of oil collapses from its current price of about $70 per barrel.

“If in the next six months the price of oil is $30 per barrel and the reserves disappear, then there could be some life in the political system,” he said.

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