Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin — the formal head of the Russian government — has launched a campaign to become President, or head of state, a position currently held by Dmitry Medvedev. Putin had already served two terms as President before becoming Prime Minister; now he has decided that he wants to become President again and swap offices with Medvedev, a protégé of his.
Putin, in his campaign, has warned Europe and America not to interfere in the Russian elections. In the 2008 elections, Medvedev received 71 percent of the vote, and the United Russia Party, the vehicle of Putin, won 315 out of 450 seats in the Duma (the Russian national legislature).
Even otherwise meek governments in Europe did not consider these elections fair or honest. The Czech government commented that the "election campaign did not conform to democratic standards.” The German government said, "Russia was not a democracy and Russia is not a democracy.” The British Foreign Ministry stated that there were allegations that, “if proven correct, would suggest that the Russian elections were neither free nor fair." Even those governments that congratulated Putin’s party on its victories did so with deeply expressed reservations.
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Photo of Vladimir Putin: AP Images