Moscow : Dmitry Medvedev was sworn in as Russia’s third president in a pomp-filled ceremony Wednesday, and quickly removed doubts about the role of his mentor and predecessor, Vladimir Putin, by nominating him as the next prime minister.
After after a 32-gun salute marking his inauguration, Medvedev named his most important goal for the future as the “development of civil and economic freedom.”
The speech was true to the 42-year-old Medvedev’s tentative profiling as a liberal-minded lawyer, an image that in contrast with ex-KGB agent Putin’s hawkish profile has led observers to anticipate a thaw in the Kremlin.
But Wednesday’s elaborate and fast-forward ceremony seemed a carefully choreographed microcosm of observers see as the Kremlin’s managed transition of power to ensure Putin’s enduring influence.
Medvedev’s first act as head of state came within hours of his inauguration, as he quickly appointed the 55-year-old Putin as the country’s next prime minister. It had been widely expected that the appointment would take place Thursday.
The appointment must be formally approved by the Russian parliament.
Opening the Wednesday’s anthem and military charged event, Putin said, “It is imperative for everyone together to continue the course that has already been taken and has justified itself.”
Politicians, tycoons and foreign leaders comprising 2,400 VIP guests Wednesday likely strained eyes and ears toward Medvedev’s reactions for any indication of what is to come.
Medvedev inherits a strong $1.3 trillion economy that has fuelled Putin’s muscling forward of Russia’s position on the world stage and what many criticize as a roll-back in democratic and personal freedoms.
By Friday the Medvedev-Putin duo will preside together over a military parade of tanks, troops and jets streaming over Red Square to commemorate World War II Victory Day with the largest show of strength since the end of the Soviet Union.