Medvedev promises freedoms as Putin's premier

AFP , Tuesday 24 Apr 2012

Russia's outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev vows to fight for political and economic freedoms after shifting into the prime minister's job

Medvedev
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev chairs a meeting with members of the Open Government initiative in Moscow April 10, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

Russia's outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev outlined his liberal credentials on Tuesday as he prepared to assume the premiership post under his mentor and successor Vladimir Putin.

Medvedev told a Kremlin meeting of Russia's political elite that he would fight for political and economic freedoms following his expected nomination to head president-elect Putin's cabinet in May.

"The development of civil and economic freedoms is my primary objective," Medvedev said in an address televised live across the nation.

"Everyone needs freedoms -- this is an axiom."

Putin is expected to submit Medvedev's candidacy as prime minister for confirmation a day after his inauguration to a third Kremlin term on May 7.

Medvedev had previously appointed Putin as his own prime minister in 2008 and their subsequent agreement to swap jobs once again after the March presidential elections helped feed street protests heading into the vote.

Putin has remained the dominant figure in Russian politics for more than a decade and is largely viewed as the more hawkish member of the ruling tandem because of his KGB roots and fervent rhetoric.

Medvedev for his part outlined a reformist vision on reaching the Kremlin but disappointed many supporters by largely failing to develop political pluralism or conquer the corruption plaguing both the state and private business.

He vowed again on Tuesday to fulfil "everything that was promised" while he was president.

"The state's intervention in the economy should be minimal and transparent," said Medvedev while also promising not to raise taxes on business and to help create better competition between giant state and smaller private firms.

He also vowed in the coming months to submit a full list of state-owned companies for a public discussion on which of them should be privatised.

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