Putin was barred from a third consecutive term by the Constitution. First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was elected his successor. In a power-switching operation on 8 May 2008, only a day after handing the presidency to Medvedev, Putin was appointed Prime Minister of Russia, maintaining his political dominance.
On 11 May 2008, Vodafone sealed a trade agreement with the Chilean Entel PCS Chile, in which Entel PCS has access to the equipment and international services of Vodafone, and Vodafone will be one of the trademarks of Entel for the wireless business.
The 2008 Sichuan earthquake also known as the Great Sichuan earthquake or Wenchuan earthquake, occurred at 14:28:01 China Standard Time on May 12, 2008. Over 69,000 people lost their lives in the quake, including 68,636 in Sichuan province. 374,176 were reported injured, with 18,222 listed as missing as of July 2008.
Persistent heavy rain and landslides in Wenchuan County and the nearby area badly affected rescue efforts. At the start of rescue operations on May 12, 20 helicopters were deployed for the delivery of food, water, and emergency aid, and also the evacuation of the injured and reconnaissance of quake-stricken areas.
Many rescue teams, including that of the Taipei Fire Department from Taiwan, were reported ready to join the rescue effort in Sichuan as early as Wednesday. However, the Red Cross Society of China said that (on May 13) "it was inconvenient currently due to the traffic problem to the hardest-hit areas closest to the epicenter".
Beijing accepted the aid of the Tzu Chi Foundation from Taiwan late on May 13. Tzu Chi was the first force from outside the People's Republic of China to join the rescue effort.
By May 14, the Ministry of Civil Affairs stated that 10.7 billion yuan (approximately US$1.5 billion at that time) had been donated by the Chinese public.
On the afternoon of May 14, 15 Special Operations Troops, along with relief supplies and communications gear, parachuted into inaccessible Mao County, northeast of Wenchuan.
Because of the magnitude of the quake, and the media attention on China, foreign nations and organizations immediately responded to the disaster by offering condolences and assistance. On May 14, UNICEF reported that China formally requested the support of the international community to respond to the needs of affected families.
By May 15, Premier Wen Jiabao ordered the deployment of an additional 90 helicopters, of which 60 were to be provided by the PLAAF, and 30 were to be provided by the civil aviation industry, bringing the total number of aircraft deployed in relief operations by the air force, army, and civil aviation to over 150, resulting in the largest non-combat airlifting operation in People's Liberation Army history.
On May 16, China stated it had also received $457 million in donated money and goods for rescue efforts so far, including $83 million from 19 countries and four international organizations. Saudi Arabia was the largest aid donor to China, providing close to €40,000,000 in financial assistance, and an additional €8,000,000 worth of relief materials.
Rescue efforts performed by the Chinese government were praised by western media, especially in comparison with Myanmar's blockage of foreign aid during Cyclone Nargis, as well as China's previous performance during the 1976 Tangshan earthquake. China's openness during the media coverage of the Sichuan earthquake led a professor at Peking University to say, "This is the first time [that] the Chinese media has lived up to international standards". Los Angeles Times praised China's media coverage of the quake as being "democratic".
On the evening of May 18, CCTV-1 hosted a special four-hour program called The Giving of Love, hosted by regulars from the CCTV New Year's Gala and round-the-clock coverage anchor Bai Yansong. It was attended by a wide range of entertainment, literary, business, and political figures from mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. Donations of the evening totaled 1.5 billion Chinese Yuan (~US$208 million). Of the donations, CCTV gave the biggest corporate contribution at ¥50 million.
The State Council declared a three-day period of national mourning for the quake victims starting from May 19, 2008; the PRC's National Flag and Regional Flags of Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions flown at half-mast. It was the first time that a national mourning period had been declared for something other than the death of a state leader, and many have called it the biggest display of mourning since the death of Mao Zedong.
First Champions League title awarded. The 2008 UEFA Champions League Final was a football match that took place on Wednesday, 21 May 2008, at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, to determine the winner of the 2007–08 UEFA Champions League. It was contested by Manchester United and Chelsea, making it an all-English club final for the first time in the history of the competition.
In May 2008, Biden sharply criticized President George W. Bush for a speech to Israel's Knesset in which he compared some Democrats to Western leaders who appeased Hitler before World War II; Biden called the speech "bullshit", "malarkey", and "outrageous". He later apologized for his language.
On 24 May 2008 BBC Radio 4 broadcast an adaptation of Dr. No. The actor Toby Stephens, who played Bond villain Gustav Graves in the Eon Productions version of Die Another Day, played Bond, while Dr. No was played by David Suchet.
On May 24, 2008, Colombian magazine, Revista Semana, published an interview with Colombian defense minister Juan Manuel Santos in which Santos mentions the death of Manuel Marulanda Vélez. The news was confirmed by FARC-commander 'Timochenko' on Venezuelan based television station Telesur on May 25, 2008. 'Timochenko' announced the new commander in chief is 'Alfonso Cano'.
Strong aftershocks continued to strike even months after the main quake. On May 25, an aftershock of 6.0 Mw (6.4 Ms according to CEA) hit northeast of the original earthquake's epicenter, in Qingchuan County, Sichuan.
As a result of the earthquake and the many strong aftershocks, many rivers became blocked by large landslides, which resulted in the formation of "quake lakes" behind the blockages; these massive amounts of water were pooling up at a very high rate behind the natural landslide dams and it was feared that the blockages would eventually crumble under the weight of the ever-increasing water mass, potentially endangering the lives of millions of people living downstream. As of May 27, 2008, 34 lakes had formed due to earthquake debris blocking and damming rivers, and it was estimated that 28 of them were still of potential danger to the local people. Entire villages had to be evacuated because of the resultant flooding.
After a gap of six years, Sebastian Faulks was commissioned by Ian Fleming Publications to write a new Bond novel, which was released on 28 May 2008, the 100th anniversary of Fleming's birth. The book—titled Devil May Care—was published in the UK by Penguin Books and by Doubleday in the US. The book—titled Devil May Care—was published in the UK by Penguin Books and by Doubleday in the US.