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President-Elect Putin Starts Consultations On New Government

Outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (left) with Prime Minister and President-elect Vladimir Putin in Krasnaya Polyana on March 8
President-elect Vladimir Putin announced plans to start consultations immediately on the composition of a new Russian government.

Putin made the announcement at a meeting with outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev at the Krasnaya Polyana ski resort on the Black Sea.

In his remarks, Putin also pledged to govern as a "nonparty" leader during his upcoming term in the Kremlin.

Putin won an uprecedented third term in the March 4 election with nearly 64 percent of the vote, according to official results.

Opposition activists and Western observers have cited flaws and unfairness in the vote, and further opposition protests against Putin's leadership are expected on March 10.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has meanwhile telephoned Putin to congratulate him on his election. NATO said Rasmussen hopes for continued engagement and constructive dialogue with Moscow.

Russia's constitution bars individuals from serving more than two consecutive terms as president, a clause that prompted Putin to groom Medvedev for the presidency in 2008 but maintain his preeminent political standing from the prime minister's seat.

With Itar-TASS, Interfax, and AFP reporting