Special Report: Russia presidential election
MOSCOW, March 3 (Xinhua) -- Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's
first deputy prime minister, won by landslide in the country's presidential
voting, according to official figures released on Monday.
He is to become the third and youngest ever president
of the state since it claimed independence in 1991.
The soft-spoken lawyer by training was favored by
incumbent President Vladimir Putin as his successor, as the outgoing president
is constitutionally barred from a third consecutive term after eight years in
During his presidential campaign, Medvedev, a long
time friend and a close ally of Putin, vowed to continue the political
strategies set by Putin and further the economic growth and Russia's prosperity.
Putin has said that he will accept the post of prime
minister if his friend becomes president.
Putin, 55, and Medvedev, 42, graduated from the same law
school of St. Petersburg Leningrad State University and have been known to
each other for 17 years.
More than a decade apart, they both took courses from
Anatoly Sobchak, an outspoken Democrat, at the university.
Sobchak later became mayor of St. Petersburg and he
brought the two men together in the city hall, where Medvedev served as a legal
consultant to the committee for external affairs, which was headed by Vladimir
Putin brought Medvedev to Moscow in 1999, shortly
after the then president Boris Yeltsin resigned and handed him the presidency.
Medvedev joined Putin's staff and headed Putin's election campaign in 2000.
From 2001 to 2003, besides his day-to-day
responsibilities in the Kremlin staff supporting the president's duties,
Medvedev was also assigned to special projects.
These included heading the commission which oversaw
the drafting and enactment of framework legislation on the reform of the civil
service and looking at ways to best overhaul the judicial system.
Medvedev also helped Putin end the popular election
of governors and pass other laws strengthening the Kremlin's grips on politics.
Almost upon his arrival at the Kremlin, Medvedev took
an active role at Gazprom, the natural-gas giant. As its chairman, Medvedev
helped Putin restore Kremlin control over the massive monopoly.
For most of his professional career, Medvedev had
been a behind-the-scenes player. However, that all changed in November 2005,
when Putin appointed Medvedev to a specially created post as first deputy prime
minister in charge of five national projects.
The appointment made Medvedev the early favorite to
succeed Putin as president. He also enjoyed extensive media coverage as a result
of the national projects he oversaw, for which the government earmarked billions
of dollars to improve health care, education, housing and agriculture.
On Dec. 10, 2007, Putin publicly voiced his support
for Medvedev to compete in the presidential race at a Kremlin news conference.
The following day, Medvedev said, if elected, he would ask Putin to serve as his
Medvedev was one of several St. Petersburg colleagues
Putin summoned to Moscow when he ascended to power in the Kremlin.
Inside the Kremlin, Medvedev aligned himself with a
group often described as the St. Petersburg lawyers or technocrats. He has
brought several of his university colleagues to Moscow or placed them in
prominent positions at state-controlled companies like Gazprom.
They are said to have a more liberal view on the
state's role in the economy, foreign policy and civil liberties than the
Siloviki, the group of former security service officials.
Soft-spoken, and often described as friendly,
Medvedev seems a far cry from what the public expects in a leader.
However, people who know Medvedev personally said he
has many leadership traits, including a knack for learning quickly, the
integrity to stand by what he believes, and the aptitude to work as a team
Medvedev's colleagues in government describe him as
loyal, competent and pragmatic.
The only child of a professor and a teacher, Medvedev
is a fan of hard rock from his early age. He lists Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin
as his favorite bands.
On his celebration Sunday night, he wore blue jeans
and a black leather jacket on the arena.
So, it was something of a dream that comes true when
Deep Purple played at the Kremlin in February 2008 at a concert to mark the 15th
anniversary of the founding of Gazprom.
Medvedev is married and has a son named Ilya. His
wife, Svetlana Medvedeva, was both his childhood friend and school sweetheart.
Medvedev stands 5 feet and 4 inches high, 3 inches
shorter than his predecessor Vladimir Putin.