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Seat warmer: Russia's Medvedev stepping aside for 'more popular' Putin

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Medvedev, in his remarks Friday, seemed at pains to explain to his supporters – including many liberal-minded people who had taken his declarations about the need to reform Russia's top-heavy, heavily centralized, and corruption-ridden political system at face value – by suggesting he might have fought for the nomination if he'd been more popular.

"I was not deceiving anyone when I said the things I did, because life can indeed make sudden changes to any plans and scenarios," he said. "At the same time, yes, we did already have an agreement between us."

Unlike the US, where the two major political parties hold exhaustive primaries for their presidential candidates, and inner-party primary challenges to an incumbent president are not unheard of, the members of United Russia had no say whatsoever in the decision Putin and Medvedev sprung on them last weekend.

Medvedev, who speaks English, enjoys Western rock music, and forged a good working relationship with President Barack Obama during his four years in the Kremlin, appeared somewhat hazy on the finer points of the US political fray.

"I read various political analyses saying things like, 'What, they are not going to both take the political stage and battle it out to the bitter end, stage a competition between themselves? How can this be?'" he said. "But you don’t see this kind of thing in any country. People who are part of the same political force choose together who to put forward and how to proceed.... Can you imagine a situation where Barack Obama, say, starts competing against Hillary Clinton? They both sought nomination as their party’s candidate for president. This kind of rivalry just wouldn’t be possible. They represent the same party, the Democratic Party, and their decisions were based on which candidate they thought would bring the best result," he said.

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