Medvedev heads United Russia, to become PM on old platform.

By bne IntelliNews April 27, 2012
President Dmitry Medvedev this week officially headed the ruling United Russia party and gave his first address as future PM, the two posts he is almost certain to take over after current PM Vladimir Putin is taking presidential office for a new six-year term. In his address Medvedev reiterated the goals that were also his priorities during the presidency, but which he didn't have enough political and administrative resources to fulfill. These include modernization and economic freedom, lower government participation in businesses, facilitating competitiveness and business environment, curing corruption and strengthening the independence of the judicial system. Medvedev also outlined seven criteria for assessing the effectiveness of the state institutions, which include life expectancy, poverty rates, international business environment rankings, new jobs, education levels and utilization of new technologies. He did not directly address, however, recently widely discussed issue of high non-oil budget deficit, dependency on hydrocarbon prices and the pension reform. To remind, in fall 2011, at the convention of the United Russia party, Vladimir Putin was nominated for the presidential elections in 2012, with current president Dmitry Medvedev possibly heading the government after stepping down the office. Both Russian and foreign press was not surprised by the news, taking that despite a seeming "intrigue" of the past years of who is going to be Russia's next president, the ease at which Medvedev gave up the struggle for power only proves that there was no struggle and that the de-facto power in Russia's politics was held by Putin since 2000 when he served two presidential terms before becoming the PM. Regarding the resulting economic development, less modernization and more authoritarian economic policies were expected while it was widely discusses that it is likely that Putin is going to stay in office for two terms of 6 years each as of 2012. After the announcement of Putin's nomination, in December's parliamentary elections the Untied Russia lost about 15% of its majority in State Duma, while the elections were followed by protests against falsification in all major Russian cities, the largest protest demonstrations in a decade. Ratings of both Putin and Medvedev declined sharply after the parliamentary elections: from about 60% before elections to 50% for both according to VCIOM and from 59% to 51% for Putin and from 43% to 39% for Medvedev according to FOM. Wide public debate and protests over the legitimacy of the parliamentary elections led to the highest number of independent observers at the presidential elections, but even the numerous accounts of falsifications could not de-legitimize Putin's confident victory in the first round.

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