Prime Minister Vladimir Putin should not stand in the 2012 presidential election so President Dmitry Medvedev can fulfill his modernization drive, the head of Medvedev's think tank said.
Igor Yurgens, head of the Institute for Contemporary Development, which is chaired by Medvedev, praised Putin for stabilizing Russia but said his return to the Kremlin in 2012 would lead to stagnation.
"I am sure he could win this election in a breeze. But I am also sure that he should not stand," Yurgens said about Putin in an interview published Thursday by Kommersant.
"We need a modernization leap. Such a leap is associated with Medvedev, both in the West and inside the country," he said, urging Putin to make "a sacrifice" to clear the way for Medvedev.
"Vladimir Putin is more popular among conservative voters who like stability, discipline, order. Medvedev is popular among liberal voters who like change, progress, movement forward," Yurgens said.
Yurgens is seen as one of the architects of Medvedev's modernization drive. His remarks betrayed growing tension between the Medvedev and Putin camps seeking to nudge their bosses to stand in the 2012 election.
Yurgens, who has no formal position in the Kremlin's administration, has made a number of controversial statements in support of Medvedev, who never publicly dismissed any of them.