Top Kremlin aide says Putin is God's gift to Russia

MOSCOW Sat Jul 9, 2011 1:40am IST

Vladimir Putin (R) talks to aide Vladislav Surkov before a meeting at the Grand Kremlin Palace's St. George's hall in Moscow January 22, 2006. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/Files

Vladimir Putin (R) talks to aide Vladislav Surkov before a meeting at the Grand Kremlin Palace's St. George's hall in Moscow January 22, 2006.

Credit: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin/Files

Related Topics

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was sent to Russia by God to help his country during one of its most turbulent times, the Kremlin's chief political strategist said on Friday in rare public remarks.

"I honestly believe that Putin is a person who was sent to Russia by fate and by the Lord at a difficult time for Russia," Vladislav Surkov, a staunch Putin supporter and one of Russia's most powerful men, was quoted by Interfax news agency as telling state-run Chechen TV.

"(Putin was) preordained by fate to preserve our peoples," said Surkov, who is also the Kremlin's first deputy chief of staff.

Putin, 58, was president between 2000-2008 before becoming prime minister and is widely viewed as Russia's key decision-maker.

The former KGB spy, picked by an ailing President Boris Yeltsin as his prime minister and heir apparent, restored national pride by sending troops back into Chechnya to quell a burgeoning insurgency and presided over a long economic boom following the chaos of the Soviet Union's collapse.

Popular with ordinary Russians, Putin crushed politically-ambitious business "oligarchs" who made their fortunes under Yeltsin, crafting a political system dependent on his own personal authority and sidelining opponents.

Neither Putin nor his 45-year-old protege, President Dmitry Medvedev, have said if they will run in the March vote. Public backing by officials of either of them, however, is rare.

The comments by Surkov, who served in the Kremlin under Putin throughout his presidency, will fuel criticism by opponents that a personality cult is building around the prime minister ahead of presidential elections in 2012.

Two months ago, a nun-like sect appeared in central Russia claiming that Putin was a saint and a saviour. A spokesman said Putin "does not approve of that kind of admiration".

Putin's alliance with the increasingly powerful Orthodox Church has unnerved the country's large Muslim minority and those who say it undermines Russia's secular constitution.

The Church has undergone a revival since the fall of the Soviet Union 20 years ago ended decades of repression under Communism, and Putin and Medvedev have endorsed it as the country's main faith.

(Reporting by Amie Ferris-Rotman; Editing by Jon Boyle)

FILED UNDER:

World Wrap

Reuters Showcase

Stake Sale

Stake Sale

Strong demand for Coal India boosts privatisation drive.  Full Article 

Pharma Deal

Pharma Deal

Sun Pharmaceutical wins U.S. approval to buy Ranbaxy  Full Article 

SpiceJet Bailout

SpiceJet Bailout

SpiceJet board approves up to $243 mln share sale plan  Full Article 

AirAsia Jet Crash

AirAsia Jet Crash

AirAsia captain left seat before jet lost control - sources  Full Article 

India Art Fair

India Art Fair

Art fair turns India's capital into art hub.  Full Article 

Romney Opts Out

Romney Opts Out

Republican Romney opts out of 2016 run for president.  Full Article 

Movie Review

Movie Review

"Rahasya" is an ode to Agatha Christie.  Full Article 

Safety Concerns

Safety Concerns

Aviation leaders seek new safety mandate after deadly 2014.  Full Article 

Movie Review: Hawaizaada

Movie Review: Hawaizaada

Movie Review: Hawaizaada  Full Article | Related Story 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage