Dmitry Medvedev was inaugurated as Russia's president on Wednesday, pledging to bolster the country's economic development and civil rights. Medvedev took the oath of office in the Kremlin's golden-hued Andreyevsky Hall, bringing to an end Vladimir Putin's eight years as president. But Putin is sure to continue to wield huge influence in the country. One of Medvedev's first acts as president is expected to be the nomination of Putin as prime minister. Medvedev, in turn, has pledged to continue the policies pursued by Putin. In his inaugural address, Medvedev said his most important tasks would be "the development of civil and economic freedom." Under Putin, Russia's economy soared from near-disaster into astonishing prosperity. But the development of civil society came under question, as opposition groups were marginalized and non-governmental organizations came under heavy pressure. The March election of Medvedev was seen by many as one of the most marked signs of Russia retreating from democracy. Most of the prominent opposition aspirants to the post were kept off the ballot. Medvedev's six-minute inaugural address referred to civil rights issues several times, a possible indication that his presidency would take a different course than that of the man who groomed him for the job and used his considerable influence to ensure his election. "Human rights and freedoms ... are deemed of the highest value for our society and they determine the meaning and content of all state activity," he said. The 42-year-old, formerly a first deputy prime minister and chairman of the state-controlled natural gas giant Gazprom, also pledged to fight endemic corruption, a problem that Putin has been unable to stifle. "I'm going to pay special attention to the fundamental role of the law. We must achieve a true respect in law, overcome the legal nihilism which is hampering modern development," Medvedev said. He pledged to help make life "comfortable, confident and secure" for Russians and to modernize industry and agriculture, encourage the development of new technologies and attract investment. Russia's economic boom has been driven largely by soaring world prices for its vast oil and gas exports, and concerns are high that the country is vulnerable to a downturn in commodities prices unless it diversifies its economy and expands its manufacturing and services sectors. Putin, in a short address to the crowd of Russian dignitaries and foreign ambassadors in the lavish hall, declared that when he became president in 2000 "I made a commitment to work openly and honestly, to faithfully serve the people and the state. And I did not violate my promise."