Putin says election win would give him 'moral right' to maintain influence

President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that a convincing victory for the party he is leading in Dec. 2 parliamentary elections would give him the "moral right" to maintain strong influence in Russia after he steps down next year. Putin's remarks in Siberia were the clearest affirmation yet that he plans to keep a powerful hold on Russia's reins, but he stopped short of saying whether he would seek a formal role. "If the people vote for United Russia, it means that a clear majority of the people put their trust in me, and in turn that means I will have the moral right to hold those in the Duma and the Cabinet responsible for the implementation of the tasks that have been set as of today," Putin said while drinking tea with workers at a road construction site in Krasnoyarsk, a vast Siberian region that reaches beyond the Arctic Circle. "In what form I will do this, I cannot yet give a direct answer. But various possibilities exist," Putin said, after a construction worker asked Putin what he would do after he left office and why he had decided to lead the United Russia ticket. "If the result is the one I am counting on, I will have this opportunity."