Profile: Russia's president-elect Dmitry Medvedev 2008-03-03 15:19:21   Print

Special Report: Russia presidential election 2008    

    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 office.

    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.

    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 prime minister.

    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 player.

    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.

Editor: An Lu
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