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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Medvedev Considers Putin Job Swap

APPresident Dmitry Medvedev speaking at a 52-minute question-and-answer session at the University of Pittsburgh.

President Dmitry Medvedev told Pittsburgh students that he could run for a second term in 2012, but made clear that a job swap with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was also possible.

“If I work well, if people trust me, why not run?” Medvedev, in Pittsburgh for a G20 summit, told a student during a question-and-answer session Thursday at the University of Pittsburgh.

Putin fueled a wave of speculation earlier this month by telling the Valdai group of foreign academics and journalists that he and Medvedev would decide which of them will run in the next elections. Putin said he and Medvedev would not compete.

In Pittsburgh, Medvedev moved to soften the impression given by Putin’s remarks.

“This does not mean we are deciding for others. This only means that we politicians should hold consultations,” he said.

“I am ready to work in a different job as long as it is useful for the country,” he said, after being asked whether he was prepared to swap jobs with Putin in 2012.

“I do not want to look into the future, but if the country sees it as useful, I am ready to work at any post,” Medvedev added. “The president’s job is difficult, the premier’s job is also difficult. The main thing is to be useful to the nation.”

Medvedev opened the 52-minute session by noting that his visit came exactly 50 years after Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev addressed the University of Pittsburgh during a U.S. tour.

“I hope too that you will not ask me the same questions that were put to Nikita Khrushchev 50 years ago because life has gone on and we have all changed since then,” he said.

Medvedev reiterated that he would not work with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili when asked about Georgian relations in the first of the 10 questions posed by students in the university’s Cathedral of Learning, a Pittsburgh landmark,

“I have answered this question before, and I can say to you that Russia will build the best possible relations with Georgia, with the Georgian government and Georgia’s leadership, but I personally do not want to have any dealings with President Saakashvili, because I believe he has committed a crime against his own people and against the peoples of South Ossetia and Abkhazia,” Medvedev said.

He also accused Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko of making no effort to improve ties and denied any souring of relations with Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko.

The president showed a softer side when asked about life’s priorities.

“Love is the closest thing that surrounds you,” Medvedev said. “It is the most important thing. Each of us understands the word in his own way, but perhaps it is the most important thing.”

Medvedev also advised the students to enjoy their time at the university. “As a former lecturer, I’ll give you a little piece of advice. Treasure the time that you have. This is the happiest time,” he said, adding that his time at Leningrad State University was his happiest.

(MT, Reuters)