TOPICS > Politics

Medvedev Takes Helm in Russia, Nominates Putin as Premier

BY Admin  May 7, 2008 at 10:05 AM EST

Dmitry Medvedev at inauguration ceremony; AP photo

The parliament could take up Putin’s nomination on Thursday, and his approval is considered a virtual lock as Putin’s party, United Russia, holds the majority of seats in the legislature.

In remarks to the more than 2,000 guests at the ceremony, aired live on state television, Medvedev said, “I want to assure all citizens of this country today that I will work with all my strength as president and as a man for whom Russia is his native home, his native land,” quoted Bloomberg News.

Medvedev, 42, a Putin ally, rose to the rank of first deputy prime minister under Putin and has been chairman of OAO Gazprom, Russia’s largest natural gas company, for six years. He is due to give up that position upon becoming Russia’s youngest leader in modern times.

Medvedev takes the helm of a country experiencing its 10th straight year of economic growth, benefitting from record oil and gas prices. The economy has grown at a rate of about 7 percent per year, driving up wages, the ruble — and inflation. Medvedev has said he plans to curb inflation but has not yet provided a specific plan on how to do so, according to Bloomberg News.

Leading up to his landslide victory in a largely unchallenged election, Medvedev painted himself as the candidate of continuity with Putin’s policies.

“It is extremely important for everyone together to continue the course that has already been taken and has justified itself,” Medvedev said Wednesday, reported the New York Times.

Putin, a former KGB leader, presided over Russia’s economic and military revival but also consolidated power and rolled back civil liberties, according to his critics.

Medvedev has said he will improve living standards, education and medical care, and aims to modernize Russia’s economy. He also has emphasized the importance of civil rights in several speeches after becoming Putin’s likely successor.

“I would like to assure all of the citizens of this country that I will be working to my fullest capacity,” he said on Wednesday. “I fully realize how much has yet to be done.”

It remains to be seen how much Medvedev, versus Putin, will be setting policy. Putin has said repeatedly that he will not seek to change the constitution in order to give the premiership more power at the expense of the president.

There was no immediate announcement on the naming of Medvedev’s government, or over how powers would be divided between the two leaders, the New York Times reported. The two men will appear together Friday at a military parade on Red Square.