Putin reiterates trust in his chosen successor
MOSCOW: Within hours of his crushing victory in Russia’s presidential election on Sunday, Dmitry Medvedev pledged to continue the policy of outgoing President Vladimir Putin.
“I think [my presidency] will be a direct continuation of the course pursued by President Putin,” said Mr. Medvedev at his first post-election press conference in the early hours on Monday.
With over 99 per cent of the votes counted Mr. Medvedev was leading with 70.23 per cent, trailed far behind by Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov with less than 18 per cent and ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky with over 9 per cent.
Western observers questioned the Russian election alleging voters had been “coerced to vote”. However, Russian analysts said an unprecedented high turnout of nearly 70 per cent added credibility to Mr. Medvedev’s victory.
The 42-year-old Medvedev confirmed that Mr. Putin (55) will become Prime Minister in the government, and said they would work in close tandem. “Our relations will be those of true comrades and partners based on our long work together and mutual trust,” Mr. Medvedev said. “I am sure that efficient and full-fledged team work could bring interesting results to the country and become a rather positive element in the development.”
Mr. Medvedev promised there would be no recarving of powers between the President and the Prime Minister, and said he would take charge of Russia’s foreign policy in line with the Constitution.
“As for the foreign policy priorities, I believe that we should pursue an independent foreign policy, as we have done over the past eight years,” he said. “Its main goal is to protect Russia’s interests across the board and with all means available to us within the limits of international law.”
In the first sign that Russia’s foreign policy will remain assertive, state-controlled gas giant Gazprom, whose board Mr. Medvedev still heads, cut supplies to Ukraine by a quarter after Kiev missed a Monday deadline for repaying its multi-million debt to Gazprom. Mr. Putin on Tuesday reiterated his trust in his chosen successor. “I am sure that Dmitry Anatolievich will do everything necessary to achieve weighty results in strengthening the country’s economy and the social sector,” said Mr. Putin at a Cabinet meeting in the Kremlin.