Medvedev becomes Russia's leader
Dmitry Medvedev has promised to extend Russia's civil and economic
freedoms after being sworn in as new president.
"Human rights and freedoms... are deemed of the highest value for our
society," he said at a lavish inauguration ceremony in the Kremlin. Mr
Medvedev took over from Vladimir Putin, becoming Russia's third leader
since the collapse of the USSR in 1991.
Within hours, Mr Medvedev, nominated Mr Putin, his mentor, as prime
"Medvedev has put forward Putin's candidacy for prime minister to
parliament," a Kremlin spokesman said.
Mr Medvedev won a landslide victory in the polls, and Wednesday's
inauguration capped his sharp ascendance from obscurity.
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
It was held in the Kremlin's magnificent St Andrew's Hall.
The ceremony began with an honour guard bringing in the symbols of
the presidential office.
Mr Putin then made a short speech, describing the handover of power
as "a hugely important stage" for Russia.
"It's extremely important... to continue the course that has already
been taken and has justified itself," said Mr Putin, referring to his
eight years in power.
Mr Medvedev then took an oath on a red-bound copy of the Russian
constitution. In a brief speech, he pledged to work for "a better"
Russia, developing "civil and economic freedom".
He said that "human rights and freedoms... determine the meaning and
content of all state activity".
Mr Medvedev also stressed he would "pay special attention to the
fundamental role of the law".
He then thanked Mr Putin for his personal support, saying he hoped he
would enjoy such backing in the future.
A 30-gun salute was then fired from the Kremlin embankment to mark Mr
The grand ceremony was the expression of a new confidence that oil-
and gas-rich Russia now feels, correspondents say.
Having campaigned as Mr Putin's protege and tied himself to his
mentor's policies as soon as his victory became known, analysts say it
is no surprise that Mr Putin will continue to play a central role.
Mr Putin urged Russians to support his successor
Dmitry Medvedev with Vladimir Putin
An economic liberal, Mr Medvedev has served Mr Putin as first deputy
prime minister, chairman of Gazprom - Russia's enormous state-run gas
monopoly, campaign chief and chief of staff.
But his working relationship with his predecessor goes back much
A lawyer by training, in the 1990s Mr Medvedev was an assistant
professor at St Petersburg State University, during which time he became
an expert consultant for the city's mayor - one Vladimir Putin.
And, analysts suggest, their partnership looks set to continue.
But the question of who wields the real power in the Kremlin will
continue to fascinate, puzzle and perplex, the BBC's James Rodgers in
Mr Putin will remain Russia's most popular politician for the
foreseeable future, which will give him huge influence over the man he
mentored as his successor, our correspondent says.
'Wait and see'
The Kremlin's lack of tolerance for dissenters was highlighted on
Tuesday as police detained dozens of would-be protestors in advance of a
planned rally by The Other Russia, an opposition group led by world
chess champion Garry Kasparov.
However, there are hopes - both in Russia and abroad - that the
country will be changing under Mr Medvedev.
"Any day that you can exchange a member of the secret police for a
law professor is a good day," international lawyer Robert Amsterdam, who
represents jailed Yukos boss Mikhail Khodorkovsky, told the BBC.
"We'll simply have to wait and see," he added.
Medvedev's 'difficult mission'
Russia's press considers whether newly-inaugurated President Dmitry
Medvedev will be able to fulfil his election promise to continue
Vladimir Putin's policies or whether he will be stifled by the
One commentator urges President Medvedev to take on the difficult but
necessary task of carrying out reform.
Mikhail Leontyev, editor of Profil Magazine in Komsomolskaya Pravda
The main intrigue of the first 100 days is in establishing a new
government and a new presidential administration. I don't think there
will be any sharp moves because the whole idea is that policy is to be
predictable and previous policy is to be continued.
Dmitry Medvedev is already a rather independent politician and he
does not have to do anything special to assert himself over the first
few months of his presidency.
Gleb Pavlovskiy, head of the Effective Politics Foundation in
The bureaucratic machine will try to grind down the new arrival... It
is not by accident that Medvedev said recently that our bureaucratic
system was the main enemy of innovation.
Besides, the first 100 days of the presidential term will be summer
months when our people feel inclined to do anything but work. This is
why this period will be very difficult for Medvedev and will be about
who is going to defeat whom.
Boris Kagarlitskiy, head of the Institute Of Globalisation And Social
Movements in Komsomolskaya Pravda
I don't think Medvedev will make any dramatic moves over the next few
months... The main promise made to us at the election was that previous
policy would continue. Therefore the authorities, including our new
president, will be calmly carrying out their functions... Some new
projects are likely in the autumn.
Irina Khakamada, politician, in Komsomolskaya Pravda
I hope that after the inauguration he will stay true to all the
statements he made before it, including those on liberalising the
economy and taking care of the people.
Mikhail Delyagin, head of the Institute Of Globalisation Problems in
He is facing a difficult mission. I would like him not only to become
a fully-fledged president but also to reform and to modernise the
country. This way he will win everyone's support.
Seniya Dubicheva, Dmitriy Latypov in Trud
Russians have been buying portraits of Medvdev but they prefer the
ones where he is with Putin.
BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television,
press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70
languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.
Profile: Dmitry Medvedev
Russia's new President Dmitry Medvedev is the country's first leader
in decades with no known links either to the former Soviet Communist
party or secret services. However, Mr Medvedev - a 42-year-old lawyer by
education - is extremely close to his predecessor Vladimir Putin, a
former KGB agent.
Medvedev with his wife Svetlana
He campaigned as Mr Putin's protege and tied himself to his policies
as soon as his victory became known in the March elections. "We will be
able to preserve the course of President Putin," he said, celebrating
his landslide victory in Moscow after the polls.
In his inauguration speech, however, he pledged to develop "civil and
economic freedom" in Russia, in what could be seen as a hint that the
country may be changing under his rule.
Endorsing his nomination as presidential candidate, Mr Putin said: "I
have known him for more than 17 years, I have worked with him very
closely all these years". Mr Medvedev had been seen as one of several
potential candidates to succeed Mr Putin.
Mr Putin was chosen as a successor by the late President Boris
Yeltsin, and it was not long before Mr Medvedev followed him to the
Kremlin, to serve as deputy chief of staff. In 2000, Mr Medvedev took
charge of Vladimir Putin's presidential election campaign and in October
2003 he was appointed Kremlin chief of staff.
Mr Putin, in turn, played an important role in Mr Medvedev's
presidential campaign, with both men featuring in an election poster
alongside the slogan: "Together we will win." During the campaign, Mr
Medvedev decided not to take part in televised debates with other
candidates, stating that it would give his rivals additional promotion.
Almost from his arrival at the Kremlin, Mr Medvedev took an active
role at Gazprom.
A visit to Serbia in February enabled him not only to renew Moscow's
support over Kosovo but also to sign a deal paving the way for the
construction of a key gas pipeline. Perhaps most important to his
credentials for the presidency was his promotion to the post of first
deputy prime minister in charge of national projects.
Mr Medvedev oversaw major social initiatives in the areas of
agriculture, health, education and efforts to boost Russia's low birth
rate. He spearheaded measures to support foster families and develop
pre-school education. He also helped restructure the Kremlin's relations
with powerful billionaire oligarchs who made fortunes in the Yeltsin
In January 2007, he told the World Economic Forum in Davos: "We aim
to create big Russian corporations and will back their foreign economic
activities. "But the role of the state certainly should not involve
telling any particular company or sector how to carry out
"Even if the state retains a controlling interest... we aim to create
public companies with a substantial share of foreign investment in their
capital." He is known to dislike labels, considering ideology harmful,
and is not a member of any political party.
But he does consider himself a democrat: "We are well aware that no
non-democratic state has ever become truly prosperous for one simple
reason: freedom is better than non-freedom."
Just before the presidential election, Dmitry Medvedev told the
Russian news magazine Itogi that his ancestors included farm workers, a
blacksmith and a hat maker. He described growing up in a 40sq m (430sq
ft) flat in Kupchino on the outskirts of St Petersburg, dreaming of
buying jeans and Deep Purple and Pink Floyd records.
So it was something of a dream come true when Deep Purple played at
the Kremlin in February 2008 at a concert to mark the 15th anniversary
of the founding of Gazprom. While still a teenager, he fell in love with
his future wife, Svetlana.
"I lost interest in lessons. It was much more interesting to hang out
with my future wife," he said. They have a son, Ilya.
Mr Medvedev also describes how he worked on a building site and as a
street cleaner to help fund his studies at university. At the age of 23
he was baptised into the Russian Orthodox Church, a decision he said he
"From that moment, I believe, a new life started for me," he said. -BBC