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Medvedev to lead, reform United Russia party

Putin nominates Russian prime minister; unanimous show of hands agrees.

Medvedev leading united russiaEnlarge
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's speech is broadcast on a video screen during a United Russia congress in Moscow, May 26, 2012. United Russia confirmed Medvedev as its new chief in a bid to reverse flagging popularity that stoked opposition protests against the Kremlin. (ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Dmitry Medvedev has assumed leadership of United Russia with the blessing of President Vladimir Putin as the country’s largest political party tries to reverse its fortunes amid accusations of corruption.

In a scripted handover of power, Putin nominated the Russian prime minister for the job, and a unanimous show of hands agreed during a 3,000-member congress today in Moscow.

Medvedev, who joined the party this week, said United Russia needs sweeping reform and reinvigoration, BBC News reported.

United Russia members are supposedly wary of Medvedev because he has criticized it for being outdated.

“The party is already old and the political system has become more and more varied,” Medvedev said, according to BBC. “So, it won't be easy. That means we have to ready to answer all challenges. To keep power, respond to criticism, argue. … It seems to me that together we can achieve that.”

Putin’s role in Medvedev’s nomination is apparently designed to ease any worries; no other candidates stepped forward.

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“I consider United Russia my key ally and partner,” he said, according to Agence France-Presse.

Putin was never a member of the party, but was its previous leader.

He stepped down recently, saying it’s inappropriate for the president to lead a political party.

Putin needs a strong United Russia to ensure his presidency retains its grip on power with regional elections looming, Reuters said.

United Russia lost nearly one-quarter of its seats in December parliamentary elections.

Allegations of vote rigging have dogged the party and fuelled anti-Putin protests after the last presidential election.

“Radical renewal is a serious challenge that will demand colossal work and commitment,” said Putin, Reuters reported.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/russia/120526/medvedev-lead-reform-united-russia-party