MOSCOW: Russia's lower house of parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly confirmed former head of state Dmitry Medvedev as prime minister after he was nominated by newly inaugurated President Vladimir Putin.
Medvedev was backed by 299 deputies in the State Duma with 144 voting against his nomination, sealing a job swap with Putin who until his inauguration Monday had served as premier for four years.
Medvedev's approval had been guaranteed after the ruling United Russia party and the largely pro-government bloc of the ultra-nationalist lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky pledged their support.
Putin then signed the decree meaning that Medvedev formally assumed his duties as premier.
But in a sign he may not get the smoothest of rides from this parliament, the opposition Communist Party and A Just Russia largely voted against Medvedev and he fell short of winning the 300 votes reportedly sought by the Kremlin.
Putin had earlier made a rare appearance in the State Duma to promote his protege's candidacy while Medvedev also outlined his programme as prime minister.
"I will do my best to maintain the positive dynamics of key directions in social and economic development and solve the problems that stand in the way of achieving our goals," Medvedev told lawmakers.
He also said the government should become more accountable and responsive to people's needs.
"We will have to consolidate society around solving key problems, and prove that the state is inseparable from the people and that it should serve the people," Medvedev added.
Putin submitted Medvedev's candidacy for confirmation almost immediately after his lavish swearing-in ceremony Monday, in keeping with a promise he made in September on announcing his planned return to the Kremlin for a third term.
The ruling tandem's private decision to trade places fed into the anger many Russians experienced about fraud-tainted legislative polls in December followed by Putin's easy but controversial March presidential election victory.
"This decision (on the job swap) was taken by me long ago, I have said this openly," Putin told parliament.
"We have changed nothing and presented nothing in front of society or parliament that could be called a trick or a political game," said Putin.
Putin had served as Medvedev's prime minister after ceding his Kremlin seat upon completing between 2000 and 2008 his first two terms as president, the maximum number of consecutive mandates allowed under the constitution.
Putin was elected to a newly extended six-year presidential term with 63.6 percent of the vote on March 4. (AFP)