Dmitry Medvedev

Dmitry Medvedev served under Vladimir Putin and succeeded him as president of Russia in 2008.


Dmitry Medvedev completed his doctorate in law soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, as a new Russia was emerging. After graduating, he made his first foray into politics as an adviser on the St. Petersburg city council. There he met Vladimir Putin, and would eventually hold key spots in the Putin government. He succeeded Putin as president in 2008 and served in that post until 2012. He is currently the prime minister of Russia

Early Life

Politician. On September 14, 1965, Dmitry Medvedev was born to intellectual parents in Leningrad, Soviet Union (now St. Petersburg, Russia). His father taught science at the Leningrad State Institute of Technology, and his mother taught language at Herzen State Pedagogical University. She would later become a tour guide at Pavlovsk Palace near St. Petersburg. Medvedev had many interests as a child, and even went through a period in his early adolescence when he memorized all of Earth's geologic time periods. The two things he loved most, though, were sports and books. Medvedev was only in elementary school when he first met his future wife, Svetlana Linnick.

In 1982, Medvedev began studying law at Leningrad State University. He describes how he chose his major: "A number of my friends decided to enter technical universities…They suggested I do something to bring my maths and physics up to scratch, and so I…forc[ed] myself to attend extra classes, but these classes only further convinced me that this was just not my thing. In the end, somewhere around May, I decided I wanted to study something in the humanities, but could not decide…Finally, after talking with various people, including my parents, I decided that law was the only real choice, and I have never once regretted this choice." His decision to study law put Medvedev in contact with Professor Anatoly Sobchak, a democrat who would later be instrumental in involving Medvedev in the politics of his country. When he wasn't studying, Medvedev was listening to his favorite rock bands, including Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath. In 1987, Medvedev graduated with a law degree and top honors.

After graduating, Dmitry Medvedev had to decide whether to pursue post-graduate studies or start a professional career. Fortunately, "a miracle happened that hadn't been seen for decades. The chair of civil law, where I took specialization, was instructed to accept three budget-funded post-graduate students to work later at the chair itself." In this way, Medvedev was able to continue his studies while also having a guaranteed job. He specialized in private, corporate, and securities law.

Entry Into Politics

During Medvedev's post-graduate studies, the Berlin Wall came down, and the Soviet Union was put on track to become Russia once again. After completing his PhD in 1990, Dmitry Medvedev received a job offer from the aforementioned former professor Anatoly Sobchak, who was now the chairman of the Leningrad (soon to be St. Petersburg) city council. The job offered was as an adviser, and Medvedev accepted on the terms that he could also hold a position as a lecturer at his alma mater. Soon after Medvedev accepted the position, a former student of Sobchak's named Vladimir Putin also took a job under the newly elected chairman. Because Putin was older and had more experience, he was given the role of senior adviser and worked closely with Medvedev.

In 1991, Sobchak was elected mayor of St. Petersburg. Though Medvedev was ready to leave the political game and practice law full-time, he relates that newly installed deputy mayor Vladimir Putin and he "agreed that I would serve as a freelance expert for the committee that he headed. We worked in that way for the next four years until Sobchak's team left Smolny Palace [a historical building and residence of the governor of St Petersburg] after losing the elections."

During his time working in the political realm and teaching law, Medvedev also helped found two successful companies and authored legal textbooks, one of which won an award. He also held the position of legal affairs director at Ilim Pulp Enterprise, which became the largest lumber company in Russia.

The call for Dmitry Medvedev to go to Moscow to enter state politics came in 1999. His colleague Vladimir Putin was appointed Prime Minister by then-president Boris Yeltsin, and then, when Yeltsin left office before the end of his term, was appointed to the presidency. While working in the Moscow government, Medvedev's work ethic and smarts, as well as Putin's liking for him, created the right conditions for him to rise through the government ranks with great speed. In 2000, Putin had to defend his appointment to the presidency by winning an election, and Medvedev was his campaign manager.

Russian Presidency

When Putin won the election, he put Medvedev in charge of five very public national projects, which Medvedev describes as "a serious and concerted effort to modernize our social sector and, as far as the agriculture project goes, develop rural life in general." This position posed new challenges to Medvedev because he had to become, he says, "someone who not only makes decisions — after all, I made decisions during my work in the Presidential Executive Office — but also has to announce and explain these decisions to the public, inform people and justify the need for these plans, and do so in convincing fashion." He had ceased to be an organizer in the wings and had stepped into a leading role.

Putin's second presidential term ended in 2008, and because of term limits he was not able to run again. He hand-picked Dmitry Medvedev as his successor, who announced soon after Putin's public endorsement that, if elected, he would appoint Putin to the position of Prime Minister. When Medvedev won the election with approximately 70 percent of the vote, he kept his promise. This led some critics and observers to speculate that Medvedev was a mouthpiece for Putin. However, Medvedev proved to be more liberal than Putin on a number of issues, and also had a less contentious relationship with the West on such issues as nuclear defense agreements.

Dmitry Medvedev served as the president of Russia until 2012 when he assumed the role of Prime Minister. He lives in Moscow with his wife Svetlana and their son Ilya. When asked about the desires he has for his country, he responded, "We'd like to give the population the most comfortable conditions of life which unfortunately we can't always provide. We have a lot of threats which we are fighting and we have tasks that we'd like to achieve, to develop and we have the same values as a democratic country established about 20 years ago."

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