MOSCOW - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is close to a decision to bid for the presidency in an election next year because he has doubts about his protege, President Dmitry Medvedev, senior political sources say.
Putin ruled as president from 2000 to 2008 before handing over to Medvedev to comply with a constitutional ban on a third consecutive term. He will be free to run in the March presidential election.
Putin, 58, and Medvedev, 45, have repeatedly refused to say which of them will run but as Russia's paramount leader, officials and diplomats say the decision is Putin's.
"I think Putin is going to run, that he has already decided to," said a highly placed source who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the political situation.