[JURIST] Incoming Russian President Dmitry Medvedev [official profile], a lawyer who won Russia's presidency in March elections, stressed the importance of rights and freedoms at the outset of his inauguration address [text; recorded video, in Russian] in the Kremlin Wednesday as he took over from outgoing President Vladimir Putin. Medvedev, a lawyer, said:
I have just sworn the presidential oath, the oath taken before the people of Russia, and its very first lines pledge respect and protection of human rights and freedoms. It is them that our society declares the greatest value, and they determine the sense and the substance of all state policy….Shortly after the March poll Russian human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin said Medvedev had to honor his declared respect for Russian law and freedoms [JURIST report] so that Russian courts and police will follow suit.
I place particular importance on the fundamental role of the law, which is the cornerstone of our state and our civil society. We must ensure true respect for the law and overcome the legal nihilism that is such a serious hindrance to modern development.
A mature and effective legal system is an essential condition for economic and social development, supporting entrepreneurship and fighting corruption. But it is no less important for increasing Russia’s influence in the international community, making our country more open to the world and facilitating dialogue as equals with other peoples.
Finally, true supremacy of the law is only possible if people feel safe in their lives. I will do everything I can to ensure that the safety of our citizens is not just enshrined in the law but is genuinely guaranteed by the state.
One of Medvedev's first acts Wednesday was to nominate Putin as Russia' new prime minister [press release], a move that will almost certainly see the latter remain a powerful – even the dominant – force in Russian government for some time. AP has more.