World News

New web address hints at Putin return to Kremlin

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin gestures during a video conference on the forest fires in Moscow September 16, 2010. REUTERS/Ria Novosti/Pool/Alexei Druzhinin

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian government agency has registered the web address Putin-2012.rf in a sign that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin may run in the next presidential election, an Internet news agency reported. Russia’s Federal Bodyguard Service, tasked with protecting high-ranking officials, registered several Cyrillic-script web addresses that appear to link Putin to a run in the 2012 election, the web news site reported.

None of the more than 400 web addresses registered by the agency since Cyrillic addresses became available earlier this summer link President Dmitry Medvedev to the 2012 vote, according to the report.

Putin says he has not decided whether to run in 2012. But most diplomats and analysts expect him to return to the Kremlin, shunting Medvedev into a lesser post. Putin and Medvedev have said they will decide between themselves who will run.

Putin’s chief spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that the web address was not an indication that the prime minister was planning a return to the Kremlin.

“There was no request from our side,” Peskov told “One should not make conclusions about far-off elections on the basis of domain name registrations.”

Putin is widely regarded as Russia’s paramount leader. Putin was president in 2000-08, and Medvedev was Putin’s handpicked choice to succeed him in the Kremlin.

Writing by Conor Humphries; Editing by Mark Heinrich