New Russian president to continue Putin’s policiesMarch 3rd, 2008 - 2:42 pm ICT by admin
Moscow, March 3 (RIA Novosti) As he cruised to victory in Russia’s presidential polls, Dmitry Medvedev Monday said his presidency would be a “direct continuation” of the policies of his predecessor Vladimir Putin. The first deputy premier of Russia, whose candidature was backed by his mentor Putin, polled 70.11 percent of the vote with about 96 percent of the ballots counted in Russia’s presidential polls till Monday morning, the Central Election Commission (CEC) said.
His nearest rival, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, was on 17.84 percent, while Nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky got 9.43 percent and the leader of the pro-Western Democratic Party Andrey Bogdanov managed only 1.28 percent of the vote.
The overwhelming lead is enough to give Medvedev victory in the first round of voting. The voter turnout is 69.6 percent, the CEC said.
Speaking to journalists at a news conference, Medvedev said that his presidential programme would be “the path chosen by our country eight years ago.”
This path, he clarified, was the one “being followed by President Putin”.
Medvedev was publicly backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin as his successor in mid-December, and was later nominated by the ruling United Russia party as a presidential candidate.
Putin later announced that he would take up an offer by Medvedev to become prime minister if his “heir” were to win the presidency.
Many political analysts suggested that Medvedev would struggle to make an impact as president with Putin as prime minister, and there were also suggestions that a change in the constitution may give Putin more power.
However, Medvedev seemed to rule this out Monday, saying: “According to the structure of authority, the president has his own powers and the head of government his own. This is derived from the constitution and the law. No one is proposing to change this.”
Medvedev is to take over the trappings of the presidency from his patron in May.
Many Western observers, including the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) main election arm, chose to boycott the election over restrictions imposed by Russia. Moscow, however, rejected the claims that it had imposed restrictions on monitors.
Critics also pointed to pressure on voters to cast their ballots, especially employees of state-run organisations. The refusal of the Russian election authorities to register a number of candidates from Russia’s opposition due to “irregularities” in their applications was also cited, as was the lack of media coverage of the candidates given permission to stand.
The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) election-monitoring mission said the elections had been held in accordance with the law. The CIS is an alliance of a number of former Soviet republics.
Election monitors from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe have yet to comment on the polls.
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