Medvedev to be inaugurated as Russia's new president


Dmitry Medvedev was to take over the Kremlin Wednesday in the shadow of his mentor Vladimir Putin, who has overseen an economic boom in Russia while rolling back many democratic reforms.

The inauguration of Russia's third president in the turbulent 17 years since the Soviet collapse was set to take place before about 2,400 guests in the Kremlin palace, starting at midday, a presidential spokesman said.

The brief but pomp-filled ceremony for Medvedev, 42, was to reflect the confidence of a Russian government riding an economic boom on the back of massive oil and gas exports.

Putin has overseen that boom in his eight-year rule while rolling back many of the democratic experiments of the 1990s, according to critics who point to the taming of the media and parliament.

Putin, 55, was not allowed to run for a third consecutive term but will instead become prime minister -- probably Thursday -- and is seen as likely to exercise major power from behind the untested Medvedev's throne.

A rare anti-Kremlin rally late Tuesday was snuffed out in Moscow even before it began, with police raiding would-be protestors well ahead of the event and filling the street where the campaigners had hoped to gather.

For Medvedev, the inauguration marks the peak of an astonishing rise from obscurity as a Putin-era bureaucrat to commander-in-chief of a vast nuclear arsenal and leader of the world's largest energy producing country.

However the choreography will ensure that Medvedev and the man he is replacing share the moment, just as they will share power when Putin starts his new career as prime minister.

According to a presidential spokesman, events in the Kremlin start with the Russian flag, presidential standard and a copy of the constitution being carried through the ornate Georgievsky and Andreyevsky halls.

Putin was set to enter the Kremlin palace, followed by Medvedev, the spokesman said. Then Putin was due to give a speech before handing Medvedev the golden chain of office.

Medvedev was then to give his own speech, take the oath of office, and be declared president by the head of the constitutional court.

Medvedev campaigned for his controversial March 2 presidential election exclusively on the promise to follow "Putin's plan."

His first important act will be to name Putin prime minister and the two -- who Russian newspapers dub the "tandem" -- will star at a Red Square military parade Friday featuring tanks and nuclear missiles.

Two thirds of Russians believe Putin as prime minister will control president Medvedev, turning the traditional power structure on its head, according to an April poll by the Levada Centre.