Dmitry Medvedev has said he does not want to run against Vladimir Putin in the 2012 presidential election, although he has not ruled out running for re-election, according to

Mr Medvedev said he did not want a “battle between close forces”, saying it would be bad for Russia.

“I don’t know what will happen in 2012, I don’t know who will run,” he added. “It could be Medvedev, it could be Putin or someone else.

“In any case, we need to think it over,” said Medvedev.

Mr Putin stepped down as required by the Russian constitution in 2008 after serving two consecutive terms as president, but is eligible to run for the office again in 2012.

Mr Putin practically designated Medvedev his successor, and following his election Mr Putin moved to the post of prime minister, to which many of the important powers of the head of state had been transferred.

The pair have for months been ambiguous about the plans for 2012 presidential election, although most Russian political analysts take it as nearly given that Mr Putin will run and sweep the election.

Mr Putin would have nearly twice the support of Medvedev in a 2012 showdown, according to a survey in June by the independent Levada polling agency.