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Thread: Medvedev takes over as Russian President

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    Default Medvedev takes over as Russian President

    Medvedev takes over as Russian President

    Associated Press
    Monday, March 3, 2008 (Moscow)
    Dmitry Medvedev, the man Vladimir Putin hand-picked to be his successor, scored a crushing victory in Russia's presidential elections on Sunday.

    A result that was long anticipated but that still raises questions about who will run this resurgent global power.

    With ballots from 80 per cent of the precincts counted, Medvedev had more than 69 per cent of the vote, according to the Central Election Commission. Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov had 18 per cent, it said.

    Medvedev was on course to win about 70 per cent, according to a poll by the All-Russia Opinion Research Center, or VTsIOM.

    He is expected to rule in concert with his mentor, an arrangement that could see Putin calling the shots despite his constitutionally subordinate position as Russia's prime minister.

    Medvedev, 42, the youngest Russian ruler since the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, is expected to heed Putin's advice, continue his assertive course with the West, maintain state control over Russia's mineral riches and freeze out real opposition movements.

    ''We will increase stability, improve the quality of life and move forward on the path we have chosen,'' Medvedev said on Sunday, appearing alongside Putin at a celebration at the Red Square outside the Kremlin. ''We will be able to preserve the course of President Putin.''

    Putin said Medvedev ''has taken a firm lead'' and congratulated his protege.

    ''Such a victory carries a lot of obligations,'' Putin said. ''This victory will serve as a guarantee that the course we have chosen, the successful course we have been following over the past eight years, will be continued.''

    Medvedev ran against three rivals apparently permitted on the ballot because of their loyalty to the Kremlin line. But the two candidates - Zyuganov and ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky - still alleged violations after the voting ended.

    Zyuganov said he would dispute the result, and Zhirinovsky threatened to do so as well, before backing down.

    Some voters complained of pressure to cast ballots for Medvedev, and critics called the election a cynical stage show to ensure unbroken rule by Putin and his allies.

    Sunday's vote came after a tightly controlled campaign and months of political maneuvering by Putin, who appeared determined to keep a strong hand on Russia's reins while maintaining the basic trappings of electoral democracy and leaving the constitution intact.

    Two heads

    After eight years in the international limelight, Putin may miss the job of representing Russia in gatherings of world leaders.

    The first test could be the July summit of Group of Eight leading industrialized nations: If Putin goes alone or accompanies Medvedev, that could signal his reluctance to relinquish control.

    Russia had two rulers - a diarchy - in the 17th century, when the first Romanov czar, Mikhail, served along with his father, Patriarch Filaret. In the early 1920s, Josef Stalin briefly shared power with Vladimir Lenin, the Bolshevik leader and founder of the Soviet state.

    The Putin-Medvedev tandem could encourage a revival of classic Kremlinology. During the Soviet era, Western experts painstakingly studied power shifts in the Kremlin by noting minute details of the public appearances of Communist Party leaders.

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