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Duma Confirms Medvedev As Putin's Premier Amid Protests

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) with Dmitry Medvedev at a special session of the State Duma in Moscow, which confirmed the latter's appointment as prime minister.
Russia's lower chamber of parliament, the State Duma, has confirmed ex-president Dmitry Medvedev as the country's new prime minister, a day after President Vladimir Putin was sworn-in for a third term.

Lawmakers in the Duma, where the Kremlin-allied United Russia party holds a majority of seats, approved Medvedev in a 299-144 vote.

Medvedev told the Duma that his upcoming cabinet will "work for our country's prosperity."

The confirmation completed a job swap between Putin and Medvedev.

Putin, who had nominated Medvedev immediately after his lavish presidential inauguration ceremony on May 7, told the Duma after the vote that Medvedev "will work with all the factions of the State Duma, and the government will listen to everyone."

Putin had served as Medvedev's prime minister after completing his first two consecutive terms as president allowed by the constitution between 2000 and 2008.

Following Putin's inauguration, several hundred protesters spent the night out in the open in central Moscow barely a kilometer from the Kremlin walls.

Police say they have made almost 750 arrests since in Moscow since May 6 at various protests in the city.

Both leaders of the protest, anticorruption blogger Aleksey Navalny and leftist activist Sergei Udaltsov, were detained but released later on May 8.

'We Have Not Given Up'

Speaking in a Moscow park after being released, Udaltsov maintained that the protests are proof that pro-democracy forces have not abandoned their struggle.

"We have shown that we have not given up and the fight for fair elections and a legitimate government goes on," he said. "The harsher the government's reaction towards us, the harsher we will respond and we will defend ourselves as we have every right to do. If the government is trying to destroy us we have the right to take a stand and this will happen sooner or later."

RFE/RL correspondent Tom Balmforth attended the unsanctioned protest.

"There are probably about 400 protesters wearing white ribbons milling around," he said, while reporting by phone from the scene.

"It is not an official protest. They haven't been given official sanctioning. There are no placards here, and there are no slogans being shouted, because if they started doing that, they would be quickly arrested by the police. Instead, people are just milling around singing songs on guitars, chatting."

Although police were present at the scene, Balmforth said they were not interfering with the protest.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP
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