MOSCOW - President Dmitry Medvedev vowed to overhaul Russia's government next year and defended plans for a job swap designed to return Vladimir Putin to the Kremlin, saying in remarks broadcast on Friday that voters will decide who leads the country.
Seeking to allay concerns a new Putin presidency could mire Russia in economic and political stagnation, Medvedev promised to bring in new faces if his mentor wins the March 2012 election and makes him prime minister.
His remarks also appeared intended to placate Russians who feel their voices count for little in a political system dominated by Putin and his ruling United Russia party for more than a decade.
"The government must be renewed," Medvedev said in an interview shown on Russia's three leading television stations during prime time.
"It will be a pivotal renewal of the government -- a government consisting of new people. I think this is fundamentally important," Medvedev said.