Russia's Medvedev promises 'civic freedom'

Dmitry Medvedev swore he would push for greater "civic and economic freedom" in Russia as he took on the reins of the country at the Kremlin. His powerful mentor and predecessor Vladimir Putin becomes prime minister. (Report: P. Hall)


Russia's new President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday his top priority was to bring greater "civil and economic freedom" to Russians.

"I consider my most important task to be the further development of civil and economic freedom, the creation of new and wide opportunities of self-fulfillment for citizens, citizens who are free and responsible both for their own success and the flourishing of the entire country," Medvedev said.

"It is such people who create a really worthy nation and are the sources of a strong state, a state which today has the needed resources and a clear understanding of its national interests," he said.

Medvedev spoke after being inaugurated in a lavish Kremlin ceremony, watched by his predecessor Vladimir Putin, who is to become prime minister.

Medvedev paid tribute to Putin and said he counted on his future support.

"Over the last eight years a powerful basis has been created for long-term development, for a decade of free and stable development.

"We should use this unique chance to the maximum so that Russia becomes one of the best countries in the world," he said, specifying education and health care and industry as priorities.

"I thank Vladimir Putin for his continued personal support. I am sure that this will continue in the future," Medvedev said.

He also said weakness in the rule of law in Russia must be corrected.

"I attach particular importance to the fundamental role of the law, on which both our state and our civil society are based. We must achieve a sincere respect for the law and overcome legal nihilism," Medvedev said.

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