The Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, has defended his decision to stand in next year’s presidential election.
He denied it was a quest to retain personal power, insisting that he needed longer to raise living standards and make Russia stronger.
He is the overwhelming favourite to return to the position he first held 12 years ago.
But critics say his political influence is an increasingly destructive force.
However, at a dinner in Moscow with foreign specialists on Russia, Mr Putin vigorously defended himself.