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Medvedev Will Firmly Defend Russia's Interests On World Arena - Putin

NOVO-OGARYOVO. March 8 (Interfax) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Russia's foreign partners that President-elect Dmitry Medvedev will defend Russia's interests on the world stage at least as firmly as he himself has done.

"You get the impression that some partners are looking forward to the moment when I stop performing my duties to deal with another man," Putin said at a press conference following talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Putin discouraged Russia's foreign partners from thinking that "they might find it easier" to work with Medvedev.

"I do not think our partners will find it easier to deal with him. This man is a true patriot, who will defend Russia's interests on the international arena in a most active way," Putin said.

Putin also said: "I am used to the label that it's hard to work with a former KGB agent."

"Medvedev will be free from the need to prove his liberal views. But he is no less a nationalist - in the good sense of the word - than I am. And I don't think our partners will have an easier time with him," Putin said.

"Under the Constitution, foreign policy is the prerogative of the president of the Russian Federation," Putin emphasized.