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Big challenges lie ahead for Medvedev
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Reiterating he will stick to Putin's route, Medvedev has pledged to implement Putin's blueprints for Russia in 2020, including the buildup of a society that offers equal opportunities for people to develop themselves, the development of an innovation-based and more effective economy and the creation of a larger middle class.

He has also vowed to make Russia one of top five economies in the world in the upcoming 10 to 15 years.

"Medvedev's goals are ambitious and focused on modernizing Russia, making it globally competitive in other fields besides oil, gas and weapons," said Yelena Biberman, an expert in the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

Medvedev, 42, a former law professor, was appointed deputy head of Russia's government administration in 1999. In 2003, he was appointed by Putin head of the presidential administration.

With the firm backing from popular Putin, Medvedev apparently is welcomed by most Russians, who hope Medvedev will continue to improve their living standards and enable Russia to play an even bigger role on the world stage just as his predecessor Putin has done.

In Klishino village of the Moscow region, the temperature was minus 15 degrees centigrade but voters made their way through the snow-covered streets. A local election official said the voting turnout had been over 70 percent as of Sunday noon.

"Life is better over the last eight years and I hope Medvedev will continue Putin's policy," local resident Ivan Dubinin, who gets a monthly pension of some 120 US dollars, told Russia Today TV channel.

The CEC will issue the election's final results on Friday and the new president will be sworn in on May 7.

(Xinhua News Agency March 3, 2008)

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