Medvedev Replaces Putin as Leader of Ruling United Russia Party

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev replaced President Vladimir Putin as chairman of the ruling United Russia party after the two men swapped jobs in the Kremlin.

Medvedev, speaking at the party congress in Moscow today, urged United Russia members to work to ensure the organization retained a majority of parliamentary seats in the next elections due in five years.

“United Russia must become number one again and win the parliamentary majority again,” he said before his election as chairman by the congress.

Putin attended the party meeting and supported Medvedev’s candidacy. The outcome is a vote of confidence in Medvedev, whose political influence waned after he agreed to step aside as president to make way for Putin’s return to the Kremlin.

Medvedev led United Russia’s list of candidates in December’s parliamentary election when it lost the two-thirds majority that allows a party to change the constitution unilaterally. Opposition parties accused the authorities of rigging the ballot to inflate United Russia’s share of the vote to about half from 30 percent.

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