Russian Parliament approves Putin as Prime Minister

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Moscow, May 8 (UNI) The Russian Parliament today overwhelmingly confirmed the nomination of former president Vladimir Putin as Prime Minister.

In the 450-member State Duma, the lower house of Parliament, which is dominated by pro-Kremlin ruling United Russia party, 392 deputies voted for Mr Putin, 56 against, with no abstentions.

In order to be confirmed as Prime Minister, Mr Putin needed only 226 votes.

Out of the four Duma factions, only Communists, who have 57 deputies in the house, opposed Mr Putin's nomination.

All the other factions, including United Russia party, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), led by ultranationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky and A Just Russia Party voted in his favour.

In his speech in the house, Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov confirmed that his faction in the State Duma would vote against Mr Putin's appointment as Prime Minister.

Mr Zyuganov added he did not have any doubt that Mr Putin would be appointed as Prime Minister.

Mr Putin's confirmation by the State Duma came a day after he stepped down as President yesterday, giving the presidency to his close ally and long-time protege Dmitry Medvedev.

Mr Medvedev nominated Mr Putin shortly after he was sworn in yesterday. Confirmation was certain because Mr Putin's United Russia party holds 315 seats in the the Duma.

Russia's President formally has more power than the Prime Minister, but Mr Putin's unprecedented move has left Russians wondering who will really be in the driver's seat.

In a speech just before the vote, he told the house he would strive for ''single-digit inflation within a few years.'' He said Russia could overtake Britain in terms of GDP this year.

Reducing the tax burden and widening the shareholder class were further priorities, he added.

Mr Medvedev assured the house of the close and smooth cooperation between him and the Prime Minister, in the coming years.

''We have worked together with Mr Putin all through these years and we continue our cooperation. I think no one doubts that our tandem will grow strong,'' he said.

He also told the house that he would sign the presidential decree today appointing Mr Putin as Prime Minister.


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