Medvyedev, Dmitry Anatolyevich

Medvyedev, Dmitry Anatolyevich
(1965– )
   Politician. The son of a professor, Dmitry Medvyedev grew up in comfortable fashion in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). He graduated from law school in 1987, and later received his PhD in private law from the Leningrad State University. Through his academic connection to Yeltsin-era politician Anatoly Sobchak, Medvyedev subsequently entered public life. During the first half of the 1990s, he worked in the St. Petersburg City Administration on legal issues related to gambling, real estate, and joint stock ventures.
   In the middle part of the decade, he began working for a timber company as well. Upon St. Petersburg native Vladimir Putin’s political ascendance in 1999, Medvyedev—along with a coterie of other “Petersburgers”—made the move to Moscow to join the new government. He supported Putin’s election campaign and was appointed deputy head of the presidential staff in 2000; he was promoted to chief of staff in 2003. In 2001, he was tapped as chair of Gazprom’s board of directors. In 2005, Ekspert magazine named him “Person of the Year.” In the midst of fervid speculation on whom he would choose as his successor (assuming the president chose to step down after two terms), Putin appointed Medvyedev first deputy prime minister, setting the stage for Putin’s 10 December 2007 endorsement of Medvyedev’s candidacy for the highest office in the nation. In a secret ballot, Medvyedev won the nomination to represent the dominant United Russia in the upcoming election. He also enjoyed the support of Fair Russia and the Agrarian Party of Russia, two smaller pro-Kremlin parties. In January 2008, he stepped down from Gazprom and formally registered his candidacy. Commanding enormous popularity among Russian voters (more than 75 percent), Medvyedev declared his intention to nominate Putin as prime minister after his victory, evidencing a carefully managed transition that would allow the outgoing president to retain significant influence after the election.
   As Putin—legally barred from a third consecutive term—could run again for the presidency after Medvyedev’s first term, many assumed that the new president would simply be a figurehead, which sat well with Russia’s pro-Putin majority.
   Medvyedev’s campaign reflected his training and experience in law, focusing on protection of private property, anti-corruption, defense of personal freedom, and eradication of “legal nihilism.” He also advocated economic deregulation and lower taxes. In a media environment where pro-Putin/pro-Medvyedev coverage was ubiquitous, Medvyedev sailed to victory with 63 percent of the vote, though the election was criticized abroad for being less than fair. On 7 May 2008, Medvyedev became the Russian Federation’s third popularly elected president. The following day, he appointed Putin as prime minister.
   Since taking office, Medvyedev has been tasked with enormous challenges at home and abroad. In August, the South Ossetian War broke out when Russian troops, responding to Georgia’s attacks on South Ossetia, threatening Russian peacekeepers, invaded the Black Sea country. Following backing in the Federal Assembly, Medvyedev issued formal recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia on 26 August 2008. The decision was met with criticism in Europe and the United States, sending relations with both the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) into a deep freeze for months. Relations were further exacerbated by plans to station missile and radar-jamming facilities in Kaliningrad to counter American missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic.
   The 2008–2009 global financial crisis struck the country particularly hard in the late summer, as plummeting commodity prices undercut Russian oil and natural gas profits. The Russian stock market dropped precipitously, deepening the country’s financial woes, which had started with massive capital flight in the wake of the invasion of Georgia in August. Medvyedev and Putin have sunk substantial state funds into the flagging economy, while simultaneously reacquiring government stakes in many enterprises that were privatized under Boris Yeltsin. When not engaged in foreign relations and economic policy, Medvyedev has dedicated his early administration to combating corruption, targeting the bureaucracy; his plan, which covers 2009–2013, aims to introduce technology and improve efficiency in the civil service, mirroring reforms that occurred in the U.S. under President Bill Clinton. In a sop to the nationalists, Medvyedev has also backed a special commission to extirpate “unfavorable” treatment of Russia in history books and popular culture.
   His sharpest departure from the Putin era came in April 2009 when he issued a call for more cooperation between the state and civil society; the statements were taken as implicit criticism of Putin’s attempt to marginalize, co-opt, or eradicate nongovernmental organizations under his presidency. Medvyedev is also seen as extremely techsavvy, and is a fan of Runet and a regular video blogger, a trait that has allowed him to market himself to younger Russians. Medvyedev has been married to Svetlana Medvyedeva (neé Linnik) since 1982, and has a son, Ilya, who was born in 1996.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.