Tensions growing in Russia`s ruling tandem: Report

Teams of Dmitry Medvedev, Vladimir Putin are scheduling competing meetings.

Moscow: Tensions are growing within Russia`s ruling tandem of Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin, with their teams scheduling competing meetings to stir up trouble, a report said on Monday.

The Vedomosti daily said that the government team of Prime Minister Putin and the Kremlin administration of President Medvedev had taken to scheduling meetings at identical times and inviting the same people to take part.

Quoting several concurring sources in the government and the Kremlin, Vedomosti said top Russian officials were being forced to choose "whether to go to Medvedev or whether to go to Putin".

The report comes as speculation mounts over whether Putin or Medvedev will stand as the top candidate in 2012 Presidential Elections. Putin handed over the Kremlin to Medvedev in 2008 but has not excluded a comeback to the top job.

Medvedev last week also engaged in his most open public clash with Putin in the last three years by slamming his comments on Libya, prompting speculation that a genuine split has emerged between the two men.

"Once it finds out the timetable for Medvedev`s meetings, Putin`s office, seemingly on purpose, sets meetings with the premier at exactly the same time," the paper quoted a Kremlin official as saying.

The official described the coordination issues as "games" to create an illusion of personal competition between Medvedev and Putin when in fact it is their teams who are competing.

Vedomosti said that Russian Parliament Speaker Boris Gryzlov and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin were conspicuously missing from a keynote political address given by Putin this month because they had to attend Medvedev meetings.

However, the paper said that officially both sides insisted they were in full harmony, with the working diary of the two men coordinated by government office chief Vyacheslav Volodin and Kremlin deputy chief of staff Vladislav Surkov.

"We try to spread out meetings. And when there are clashes, ministers as a priority take part in the president`s meetings and their main deputies work with the Premier," Putin`s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the paper.

Bureau Report