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8 May, 2012 13:11

Parliament approves Medvedev’s candidacy for premiership

The State Duma has approved Dmitry Medvedev as Prime Minister after President Vladimir Putin kept to his promise by presenting him before the body of lawmakers.

The lower house voted to approve Medvedev by a margin of 299 to 144. After the decision was passed and signed by the Lower House speaker, both Medvedev and Putin thanked the MPs for their support. Putin then immediately signed the decree appointing Medvedev Prime Minister, the presidential press service reported.Medvedev’s appointment was a foregone conclusion, as President Vladimir Putin promised to back his candidacy as Prime Minister during a September 2011 United Russia election convention.The new PM for his part had promised to support Putin in his presidential bid. Medvedev likewise becomes the leader of United Russia after Putin himself was elected president.“You know that this decision was made by me a long time ago and I announced it openly and in advance; before the parliamentary and presidential elections. So, my position and Dmitry Medvedev’s position were outlined before society ahead of all events.We did not change anything, did not add anything to the parliament or society that could be called rigging or a political game,” Putin told the State Duma. While Dmitry Medvedev was addressing the parliament as a candidate, he said that he was prepared for a dialogue with all political parties if his candidacy is approved. "As Prime Minister, I will be open for contacts, consultations and dialog with all political parties," Medvedev said, adding that the work of the government must meet the interests of all Russian citizens. He added that he will do everything he can to maintain effective cooperation between the government and parliament. Medvedev further told the MPs that he expected State Duma discussions of legislative initiatives to be both constructive and critical.The results of the voting in the State Duma were also pre-decided. A parliamentary majority backed by United Russia and the Liberal Democratic Faction had promised to vote for Medvedev rollowing consultations with him in parliament.While United Russia and the Liberal Democratic Party voted in support of Medvedev’s candidacy, the left-wing factions such as Fair Russia and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation voted against him. The Communist Party faction is the largest opposition faction, with 92 parliamentary seats out of 450. They did not support Medvedev as PM, but their leader Gennadiy Zyuganov had previously said that cooperation between the communists and Medvedev as Prime Minister was possible. “We have put forward a number of suggestions and we will cooperate with the government on all productive issues depending on the government’s composition and course,” Zyuganov told the ITAR-TASS news agency after consultations with Medvedev took place before the parliamentary session. He added that the nation needs a new policy of real modernization and a real course supported by small and medium-sized business as the “oligarchic course” had failed all expectations.Zyuganov noted that the country needs a left-centrist government of people’s trust or it will remain forever at a dead end.The Fair Russia faction also opposed Medvedev’s appointment as PM by order of the party leader Sergey Mironov, who asked fellow party members to vote against Medvedev together or face serious disciplinary measures. “We need a thought-out pragmatic position, we must work till the future victory of our party," Mironov told the faction members. Despite the warning, five Fair Russia deputies voted for Medvedev and Mironov said that they would be expelled.At the same time, other members of the Fair Russia faction said they were ready to cooperate with Medvedev and his government. MP Ilya Ponomaryov told the press that he personally believed Medvedev looks better as Prime Minister than he did as President. MP Gennadiy Gudkov said that Medvedev promised to change 80 percent of the government members, but did not give any particular names.