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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kasyanov Will Run for President in 2008

Former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said late Wednesday that he would run for president in 2008.

The announcement is likely to anger the Kremlin, with President Vladimir Putin having said in the past that he feels it his duty to select a successor.

Kasyanov, who hinted that he might run in February, said on Ekho Moskvy radio that doubts he had harbored about a bid had evaporated over the past three months.

"My answer now is yes. The absence of any positive change has convinced me. I cannot just leave because there is no one else to develop the political processes," Kasyanov said.

He also said he would participate in Moscow City Duma elections in December and in other elections but would not run as a candidate.

State-controlled Channel One television reported Kasyanov's announcement on its 9 p.m. news broadcast.

Putin fired Kasyanov in February 2004. Kasyanov, who had held the post for about four years, was seen as being close to the oligarchs and had grown increasingly critical of the Kremlin. Shortly before he was fired, he had criticized the legal assault on Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his Yukos oil company. Khodorkovsky's arrest and the subsequent dismantling of Yukos are widely seen as the Kremlin's punishment for Khodorkovsky's political and business ambitions.

In July, the Prosecutor General's Office opened an investigation into Kasyanov's acquisition of a former state-owned villa — a corruption probe that itself is widely seen as a Kremlin warning to Kasyanov to stay out of politics.

Kasyanov said Wednesday that he considered the allegations "political and groundless."

He said he would release details about his property when he kicks off his campaign for the presidency.

Kasyanov earlier accused the authorities of trying to mount a smear campaign with the investigation.

Kasyanov has grown increasingly critical of Kremlin policy this year, and on Wednesday he took aim at Putin's recently announced plan to spend 115 billion rubles ($4 billion) on health, education and social policies.

"This is a wrong social turn, it is not a systematic improvement. It is just a handout," Kasyanov said.

He said he was working to unite leading democratic-minded political movements and felt optimistic about the prospects for unification.

"Without an alliance in the near future, democracy in Russia will face a happy end," he said.

"Then you can forget about this course that I have said is correct for more than 10 years. This will happen for sure unless today we don't help citizens to wake up and if democratic forces don't unite and don't form a real challenge," Kasyanov said.

The liberal Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces parties are discussing how to join forces ahead of the Moscow City Duma elections on Dec. 4.

The two have said that they need to work together if they want to secure any seats in the 35-member chamber.