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Medvedev takes Russian presidency from his mentor Putin

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080507/ap_on_re_eu/russia_medvedev_inauguration Medvedev takes Russian presidency from his mentor Putin By JIM HEINTZ, Associated
    Message 1 of 1 , May 7, 2008
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      Medvedev takes Russian presidency from his mentor

      By JIM HEINTZ, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 22
      minutes ago

      MOSCOW - Dmitry Medvedev was inaugurated as Russia's
      president on Wednesday, pledging to bolster the
      country's economic development and civil rights, in
      what may signal a departure from his predecessor's
      heavy-handed tactics.

      Medvedev took the oath of office in the Kremlin's
      golden-hued Andreyevsky Hall, bringing to an end
      Vladimir Putin's eight years as president. But Putin
      is sure to continue to wield huge influence in the

      Little more than two hours after becoming president,
      Medvedev nominated Putin to be prime minister.

      Medvedev has pledged to continue the policies pursued
      by Putin, and some observers see him as more likely to
      be a handmaiden than an independent leader.

      But in his inaugural address, Medvedev referred to
      civil rights issues several times — a possible
      indication that his presidency would take a different
      course from his mentor's.

      Under Putin, Russia's economy soared from
      near-disaster to astonishing prosperity. But the role
      of civil society came under question, as opposition
      groups were marginalized and non-governmental
      organizations came under heavy pressure.

      In his address, Medvedev said that one of his most
      important tasks would be "the development of civil and
      economic freedom."

      The March election of Medvedev was seen by many as one
      of the most marked signs of Russia retreating from
      democracy. Most of the prominent opposition aspirants
      to the post were kept off the ballot.

      But Medvedev highlighted civil rights on Wednesday.

      "Human rights and freedoms ... are deemed of the
      highest value for our society and they determine the
      meaning and content of all state activity," he said.

      The 42-year-old president, formerly a first deputy
      prime minister and chairman of the state-controlled
      natural gas giant Gazprom, also pledged to fight
      endemic corruption, a problem that Putin has been
      unable to stifle.

      "I'm going to pay special attention to the fundamental
      role of the law. We must achieve a true respect in
      law, overcome the legal nihilism which is hampering
      modern development," Medvedev said.

      He pledged to help make life "comfortable, confident
      and secure" for Russians and to modernize industry and
      agriculture, encourage the development of new
      technologies and attract investment.

      Russia's economic boom has been driven largely by
      soaring world prices for its vast oil and gas exports.
      Concerns are high that the country is vulnerable to a
      downturn in commodities prices unless it diversifies
      its economy and expands its manufacturing and services

      Putin, in a short address to the crowd of Russian
      dignitaries and foreign ambassadors in the lavish
      hall, declared that when he became president in 2000,
      "I made a commitment to work openly and honestly, to
      faithfully serve the people and the state. And I did
      not violate my promise."

      He also took an apparent swipe at critics, saying
      Medvedev's election and the transfer of power were
      conducted in "strict adherence to the laws and
      principles of democracy."

      The nomination of Putin as prime minister is expected
      to be voted on Thursday in the parliament, where
      approval is a virtual certainty.

      His transfer to the premiership has raised wide
      question about how much power Medvedev will actually
      wield and even whether Putin would try to undermine

      Medvedev obliquely touched on the issue in his
      address, thanking Putin for his support and saying,
      "I'm sure it will be this way in the times ahead."

      The inauguration ceremony, although awash in pomp,
      including goose-stepping guards, was low on drama and
      lasted less than a half-hour.

      Putin arrived first, shown in live TV broadcasts as he
      strode across one of the Kremlin's squares, bid brief
      farewell to presidential guards regiment and entered
      the Grand Kremlin Palace.

      Medvedev came next, in a black Mercedes limousine. He
      was shown making a long and solemn walk through two
      sprawling reception halls before entering the
      Andreyevsky Hall — which had also been a throne room
      in czarist times.
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