Today in Moscow will be an inauguration of Russia president Dmitry Medvedev

Other News Materials 7 May 2008 04:00 (UTC +04:00)
Today in Moscow will be an inauguration of Russia president Dmitry Medvedev

Thirty guns will salute Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday, when he is sworn in as a new Russian president in the Kremlin's throne room to replace his long-time mentor, the powerful Vladimir Putin.

But many of the 2,000 invited dignitaries at the lavish ceremony will be trying to guess if the 55-year-old ex-KGB spy, who has led Russia's revival for eight years, is ready to step back and let the 42-year-old ex-lawyer rule the country.

Putin has named Medvedev as a preferred successor ensuring his victory in the March polls with 72 percent of vote.

But the Kremlin leader, who will become Medvedev's prime minister, has also said he will retain political influence after quitting while promising not to change the balance of power between president and government.

Officials and media have said the inauguration in the Grand Kremlin Palace will follow the pattern set for a similar ceremony in 2000, when Putin was sworn in, to stress continuity and smooth transition of power.

Eight years ago, Putin's long ceremonial march through golden Kremlin halls captured for many ordinary Russians the glory of the Russian state.

Medvedev will also march to the Kremlin's gold-and-white St Andrew's hall to take the oath and make a brief speech to the nation in a ceremony due to start at 8:40 a.m. British time.

But Russian media has said that unlike in 2000, the new president is likely to be preceded by Putin who will take the same path and make a speech in a gesture putting him on an equal footing with his successor.

After the ceremony accompanied by an artillery salute, Putin and Medvedev will watch a parade by the Kremlin guards.


Putin has said Medvedev, who had spearheaded ambitious social projects designed to translate Russia's new wealth into a better life for millions, is the right man to head Russia.

The constitution, adopted under Yeltsin, gives a president strong powers, including the right to define Russia's foreign and domestic policy, appoint key ministers and control key security and defence agencies.

Putin, in his time in office, further boosted Kremlin power by assuming the right to name hitherto elected regional leaders and seizing control of parliament through the pro-Kremlin United Russia party.

The party holds a two-thirds majority in the lower house.

Putin has said he sees no problem working with Medvedev with whom he shares views on Russia's future. But Russia's history knows few examples of such smooth coexistence.

Short-lived rivalries between Yeltsin and his powerful prime ministers usually ended in the resignations of the latter.

Putin has preferred technical, and weak, premiers. But when he is confirmed as a new prime minister by parliament on Thursday and lands in his new riverside office in central Moscow, the picture is sure to change dramatically.

Putin, who has presided over eight years of uninterrupted economic growth, has said he will focus on making Russia one of the top seven global economies by 2020. He has promised not to seek any extra powers.

But in a sign that he is not going to let political levers out of his hands, Putin has agreed to head United Russia winning a strong instrument of control over the new president.

Eight years ago, the departing Yeltsin left Putin a pen with which he used to sign laws as a symbol of a handover of power. Putin said in a newspaper interview last month, he would take the historic pen with him rather than leave if to Medvedev, according to Reuters.