Russian Duma Confirms Medvedev as PM

Posted May 8th, 2012 at 5:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Russia's lower house of parliament has approved Dmitry Medvedev as prime minister after he was nominated by newly inaugurated President Vladimir Putin.

Lawmakers voted to confirm Mr. Medvedev 299 to 144. He has swapped jobs with Mr. Putin, who, until his inauguration Monday, was prime minister for four years.

The job swap has angered many Russians and sparked protests against the men's grip on power. Before the Duma began its debate, police broke up an all-night, sit-in protest in a park near the Kremlin and arrested several people, including prominent opposition blogger Alexei Navalny and coordinator of the Left-Wing Front movement Sergei Udaltsov.

The two were charged for breaking rules on organizing demonstrations and marches. They were released with orders to return to court Friday.

Russian riot police beat protesters near the Kremlin on the eve of Mr. Putin's inauguration.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner says the United States is disturbed by the images of police mistreatment of peaceful protesters.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told CNN television Tuesday that she wants Russia to fulfill its own potential, which means giving people the chance to express themselves.

Mr. Putin was elected to a third presidential term in March with 64 percent of the vote. He served as president from 2000 to 2008, but term limits prevented him from running for a third consecutive term. He then became prime minister under Mr. Medvedev.

A constitutional amendment has extended the president's time in office to two consecutive six-year terms, meaning Mr. Putin could stay in power until 2024 — an outlook many Russians find unsettling.