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2008 Presidential Elections

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The appointment as first deputy prime minister made Medvedev the early favorite to succeed Putin as president. He enjoyed extensive exposure and favorable media coverage as a result of the national projects. Billions of dollars were apportioned for the domestic welfare undertakings to improve health care, education, housing and agriculture. Medvedevs popularity ratings were bested only by the sitting president.

However, the appointment of Sergei Ivanov, a hawkish former security official with a deeper political resume, to another post as first deputy prime minister called Medvedevs coronation into question. By the beginning of 2007, Ivanov was seen as a more likely candidate. The appointment in September of Viktor Zubkov as prime minister in the autumn of 2007 further muddied the waters.

A flood of news articles and opinion pieces obsessed over the identity of Putins potential successor, but the decision rested only with Putin. He gave no hint as to his preferred candidate until a bit of political theatre on Dec. 10, 2007. In a news conference at the Kremlin, Putin sat at a table with Medvedev, United Russia party leader Boris Gryzlov, A Just Russia leader Sergei Mironov, and the leaders of the Civil Force Party and the Agrarian Party. Gryzlov said he offered his support for Medvedev and Putin assented. I fully support this candidacy, he said.

The next day, Medvedev said, if elected, he would ask Putin to serve as his prime minister. With that, the elections on March 2 were decided. Medvedevs presence in the media skyrocketed again alongside a torrent of biographical pieces asking, Who is Medvedev?

In opinion polls after the announcement, Medvedev gained the support of some 80 percent of respondents. Analysts predicted that he will win the March 2 vote easily with more than 60 percent support.

Medvedev was elected President of Russia on March 2, 2008. According to final election results, he won 70.28% of votes with a turnout of over 69.78% of registered voters. The fairness of the election was disputed, with official monitoring groups giving conflicting reports. Some reported that the election was free and fair, while others reported that not all candidates had equal media coverage and that Kremlin opposition was treated unfairly. Monitoring groups found a number of other irregularities, but made no reports of fraud or ballot stuffing. Most agreed that the results reflected the will of the people.

On May 7 Dmitry Medvedev took oath as third President of the Russian Federation in a ceremony held in Kremlin Palace. After taking the oath of office and receiving a gold chain of double-headed eagles symbolizing the presidency, he stated: "I believe my most important aims will be to protect civil and economic freedoms; we must fight for a true respect of the law and overcome legal nihilism, which seriously hampers modern development." As his inauguration coincided with the celebration of victory over Nazi Germany at May 9, he attended the military parade at Red Square and signed a decree to provide housing to war veterans.

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