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Putin becomes head of Russia’s ruling party


Moscow : Outgoing president Vladimir Putin became head of the ruling party United Russia Tuesday ensuring his rule over a huge parliamentary majority when he takes the premiership in May.

The entire party congress gave Putin a standing ovation as he took the podium.

“What concerns the leadership of the party, the chairman’s post, is a natural, successful and civil element of the democratic state … and that is why I gratefully thank the party for their proposal and I agree to take the leadership of the United Russia party,” he said.

In a scene that evoked memories of Communist party congresses during the Soviet rule, more than 600 delegates held up a sea of white cards first to vote for an amendment to the charter to create a new post tailored for Putin, and then to unanimously vote Putin to the post.

Putin will formalize his leadership of the party May 7, the day after his hand-picked successor Dmitry Medvedev is inaugurated as president.

Medvedev will have barely 24 hours in office before Putin also on May 7 assumes the post of prime minister.

The two have promised to rule in tandem and there are no visible signs of conflict.

Medvedev, who is not a party member, took the stage at Gostiny Dvor just a block away from the Kremlin in order to introduce his mentor.

“This proposal is both logical and timely … it will open up new prospects in Russia for the forming of a strong parliamentary majority,” he said.

United Russia party’s head Boris Gryzlov had Monday proposed the creation of a new supra-leader post, which he said would be “additional”, “separate” and “above” any of the day-to-day management duties.

Putin becomes party chairman without officially joining United Russia.