News24

Russia denies Putin heading Olympics

2011-03-04 20:49

Moscow - The Russian government on Friday rubbished a report that the United States wanted Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to step aside from politics and become head of the International Olympic Committee.

"This is a very strange report," Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told the Interfax news agency. "It's as if today is April Fool's Day. There is no reason to comment on this."

Russian daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported earlier on Friday that Putin could be offered the top post of the world Olympic movement if he renounces any ambitions to stand as president in 2012 elections.

Quoting a source in Russia's State Duma lower house of parliament, it said the idea would be discussed when US Vice-President Joe Biden visits Russia next week.

It said that Biden would make clear to President Dmitry Medvedev during talks on Wednesday that Washington wants him to serve a second term, rather than seeing Putin return to the Kremlin.

Russia is to host the 2014 Winter Games and Putin has had extensive contact with international Olympics officials in preparing for the games.

Putin, who served as president from 2000-2008, has yet to announce if he will stand in the 2012 presidential polls. Both men have said they will not compete against each other but will decide nearer the time who stands.

There is one year to go before the polls and some Russian media are detecting growing splits between the leaders on issues ranging from mascots for the Olympics to the economy. But this has yet to become explicit in public.