Dmitry Medvedev secures new mandate as Russian prime minister

Dmitry Medvedev secures new mandate as Russian prime minister
Russia's President Vladimir Putin and acting Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attend a session of the State Duma in Moscow on May 8, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 08 May 2018

Dmitry Medvedev secures new mandate as Russian prime minister

Dmitry Medvedev secures new mandate as Russian prime minister

MOSCOW: Dmitry Medvedev secured a fresh term as Russian prime minister on Tuesday, as the lower house of parliament voted overwhelmingly for President Vladimir Putin’s long-term ally to retain his post.
“I am ready to do everything for the development of our country,” Medvedev said ahead of the vote in the State Duma, which Putin also attended.
A total of 374 MPs backed his candidacy while 56 voted against.
The ruling United Russia party and the ultra-nationalist LDPR party backed Medvedev, while the Communist and Just Russia parties opposed him.
The 52-year-old served a term as president from 2008 to 2012 before standing aside to become prime minister while Putin returned to the Kremlin.
Putin praised Medvedev in a speech ahead of the vote, saying that the prime minister “hardly needs any special introduction” after leading the government for the past six years.
“All that has been accomplished in recent years creates a solid basis for moving forward,” Putin said, adding that he worked “thoroughly, professionally and honestly” during a “difficult” period for Russia.
“Despite all these difficulties, the government managed not just to solve extraordinary, emergency tasks” but also develop plans aimed at the “mid-term and long-term,” Putin said.
“I think it’s extremely important to preserve continuity.”
Medvedev in turn thanked Putin for his support and said his government would work toward fulfilling new national targets announced by Putin following his inauguration for a fourth Kremlin term this week.
“We are able to be victorious both in war and peaceful times,” he told the Duma, a day before Russia celebrates World War II victory over the Nazis with a military parade on Red Square.
Despite having played a relatively marginal role in the post in recent years, Medvedev won popular notoriety with an ill-judged throwaway phrase to an elderly woman complaining about her low pension in 2016 that “there’s no money, but you hang in there.”
Last year, he was accused of massive corruption by opposition politician Alexei Navalny in a YouTube video that has been viewed more than 27 million times.
Navalny’s supporters, many of them teenagers, responded to the claims that Medvedev controls a luxury property empire by holding large-scale opposition protests across Russia.
Medvedev served as president from 2008 to 2012 when Putin had served the maximum two consecutive terms permitted by the Russian constitution.
Putin then returned as president in 2012 while Medvedev became prime minister in a deal that the men said they had long agreed, disappointing those who had seen Medvedev as a more liberal figure and prompting mass street protests.
The pair first met in their native city of Saint Petersburg where they were colleagues in the mayor’s office in the 1990s.
Putin, 65, is now set to serve until 2024 and is on course to become the longest-serving Russian leader since Joseph Stalin. He won March polls with more than 76 percent of the vote.
Medvedev had been expected to retain his post despite rumors regularly surfacing that he is on the way out.
“Dmitry Medvedev has held on,” Vedomosti business daily headlined its front page on Tuesday, while saying that “Putin’s new promises will mainly be carried out by an old government.”
RBK daily called him a “premier for stability,” quoting sources in the Kremlin and the government as saying that he is the only person whom Putin trusts.
oc-am/ecl


Britain tightens borders to keep out new COVID-19 variants

Britain tightens borders to keep out new COVID-19 variants
Updated 15 January 2021

Britain tightens borders to keep out new COVID-19 variants

Britain tightens borders to keep out new COVID-19 variants
  • Johnson is grappling to control a third wave of the virus and prevent the health service from collapse
  • The rule changes come into force at 0400 GMT on Monday

LONDON: Britain is tightening border controls to block new variants of COVID-19, suspending all “travel corridor” arrangements that had meant arrivals from some countries did not require quarantine.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is grappling to control a third wave of the virus and prevent the health service from collapse while also racing to vaccinate millions each week.
“What we don’t want to see is all that hard work undone by the arrival of a new variant that is vaccine-busting,” he told a news conference, explaining the end of travel corridors at least until Feb. 15.
The rule changes come into force at 0400 GMT on Monday and mean all passengers must have a recent negative coronavirus test and transfer immediately into isolation upon arrival.
Isolation lasts for 10 days, unless the passenger tests negative after five.
On Thursday, Britain banned arrivals from South America, Portugal and some other countries over fears about a variant detected in Brazil.
Britain’s current lockdowns ban most international travel meaning that airline schedules are currently minimal, but the withdrawal of any quarantine-free travel will be a further blow for an industry already on its knees.
UK-based airline easyJet said there was no immediate impact from Johnson’s announcement, but in a statement added: “We need to ensure that travel corridors are put back in place when it is safe to do so.”
Britain has already felt the effects of mutations in the virus, after a variant first discovered in England has proved to be more transmissible.
Critics say the government has been too slow to act and previously left borders wide open.
Much of the criticism prior to Friday’s announcement has focused on whether rules requiring arriving passengers to quarantine are actually being enforced, with anecdotal evidence that few checks are made.
“We will be stepping up our enforcement, both at the border and in country,” Johnson said.