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Vladimir Putin ready to return to Kremlin

Sep 24, 2011, 7:38 a.m.

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Vladimir Putin declared on Saturday he was ready to return to the Russian presidency after current head of state Dmitry Medvedev announced he would bow to his mentor at March's election.

Ending months of speculation over which of them will be president, Medvedev proposed Putin, now prime minister, at a congress of the ruling United Russia party.

Putin, widely regarded as the driving force in the country for the last 11 years, invited Medvedev to take his place as prime minister.

The following are highlights of the speeches made by Putin and Medvedev at a congress of the ruling United Russia party.

VLADIMIR PUTIN:

"I would like to express words of gratitude to you for your positive reaction to (Medvedev's) suggestion that I run for presidency -- it is a great honor for me. Thank you. I hope for your support.

"A tradition has developed in recent years according to which the president leads the United Russia electoral list. I believe that we should not violate this tradition. I propose that the current head of state, Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev, lead United Russia's electoral list."

"I want to say directly: (Medvedev and I) reached an agreement between ourselves long ago, several years ago already, on what to do in the future, on who should do what.

"But both I and Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev believe that this is far from the most important thing -- who will do what, who will sit in what place.

"What is far more important is something else: how we will all work, what results we achieve, and how the citizens of our country will relate to this."

"We need to ... turn the flywheel of economic development up to 6-7 percent a year and enter the top five economies of the world ... This is an absolutely realistic task."

DMITRY MEDVEDEV:

"Taking into account ... the successful performance (of United Russia) in elections and my readiness to do practical work in the government, I think it would be right for the congress to support the candidacy of the party chairman Vladimir Putin to run for presidency."

"Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, as chairman of the party has come to me with the suggestion to head the electoral list of the United Russia party. This is unconditionally a very significant and serious proposition. I accept it."

"Disorder and mess is unacceptable and inadvisable for any party, bureaucratization is also very dangerous. They lead to stagnation and degradation of the political system and unfortunately this has happened to our country in the past. I am glad that the party realizes that."

"The party should get rid of redundant members, who hang on to it out of their own self interest. It should finally become younger and more creative to compete with other political forces in the country."

"I would like to sincerely thank you for your constant and active support for my political strategy. The party ... has supported me and is supporting me now. This strategy defines the outline of our development for the coming years."

(Reporting By Thomas Grove and Alexei Anishchuk; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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