Meet Dmitry Medvedev, The Dick Cheney To Putin's George Bush: 5 Things You Didn't Know About Russia's Right-Hand Man
You think you've learned all there is to know about Vladimir Putin? You're probably right. For the past few months, we've all been inundated by reports of the man, the mystery, the major antagonizer. But while we've been obsessing over the president of Russia, we've let one major player slide under the radar. Dmitry Medvedev is, so to speak, the jelly to Putin's peanut butter, the crackers to Putin's cheese, the Dick Cheney to Putin's George W. Bush.
Dmitry who? Russia's prime minister has garnered considerably less name recognition than its president. But while Putin gets the lion's share of the media attention, it is Medvedev who seems to be doing more on-the-ground work, as he was actually the first Russian diplomat to visit Crimea after Russia seized the region. But despite all his involvement in Russian aggression, 'Mitry just can't seem to get aggressive enough to get some recognition.
1. Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin have been playing musical chairs with Russian politics.
In 2008, Putin finished his second term as president, and due to the two-consecutive-term limit in Russia, he was unable to run again. Instead, he hand-picked Medvedev as his successor, who then managed to win 70 percent of the vote, leading to considerable speculation that Medvedev's presidency was a little less than authentic. Putin was subsequently appointed second-in-command for Medvedev's four-year presidency, serving as Russia's prime minister. But in 2012, Putin decided that no good music was ever produced by the second fiddle, and he took back the presidency, putting Medvedev in his former position.
2. Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin are not bosom buddies. In fact, they might not even be buddies.
When Medvedev took the presidency in 2008, it seemed largely under the condition that he would serve as Putin's mouthpiece, continuing Putin's regime under a different signature. However, this was not the case, as Medvedev proved himself to be far more liberal than his mentor. In fact, he implemented considerable reforms to move Russia out of its KGB-esque tendencies, including decriminalizing slander, removing government officials from state-run company boards, and even saying"freedom is better than non-freedom." Awwwww! However, Vlady wanted nothing to do with this, and when he resumed power in 2012, he undid Medvedev's reforms one by one. Putin's spokesperson even told The Associated Press:
"It's not a secret that during Medvedev's presidency some mistakes were made."
Ouch. Looks like Medvedev and Putin won't be playing badminton together much anymore. At least, not like they used to.
3. It's not an accident that you haven't heard Dmitry Medvedev's name: Putin won't even mention him.
After Medvedev broke from Putin's expectations for his presidency, what with the modest (and unsuccessful) reforms and all, Putin was none too pleased. After Medvedev dutifully stepped aside to allow the true leader of Russia to assume his third term -- remember, the Russian constitution only prohibits more than two consecutive terms -- Putin repaid his loyalty with chilliness. Late last year, when Putin was asked to name the number two in command in Russia, he listed a series of names that did not include Medvedev. Only afterwards was Medvedev mentioned, in a move that Russia's state-run RIA Novosti news agency described as a “snub." In Russia, as in the United States, lack of facetime and airtime means lack of relevance, and Putin's continued avoidance of even mentioning Medvedev's name is thought to be a not-so-subtle ploy to dampen Medvedev's political career. In fact, political commentators familiar with Putin's tactics noted that the ex-KGB spy often chooses to talk around his opponent's names, suggesting that Medvedev has truly fallen from favor. It's almost as though Putin is saying, "Just stop, Dmitry. Just stop."
4. Despite Putin's feelings for Medvedev, he seems like a nice, romantic guy.
Medvedev married his childhood sweetheart, Svetlana Medvedev, and they have been married for 14 years. She is also quite the fashionista, and is a mainstay in the Russian social scene, known for organizing charity events both in Russia and abroad, as well as her friendship with top fashion designers, actors, and musicians. Her high-profile, almost glamorous reputation stands in stark contrast to that of Putin's ex-wife, who said that Putin set out two rules in their marriage: The first, "A woman must do everything in the household." The second, "One should not praise a woman; otherwise you will spoil her."
5. Medvedev is a big fan of classic rock.
In fact, so big a fan that he even told U2's Bono over tea that he loved Led Zeppelin. He is also a lover of Deep Purple, a band that was actually banned in Russia. But Medvedev's devotion to the group ran so deep that they were flown into Russia in 2008 when Medvedev was elected president. In a 2007 interview with Itogi magazine, Medvedev revealed that he owned every Deep Purple record ever released. Black Sabbath and Linkin Park are also likely to be found on Medvedev's iPod. Rock on, Dmitry. Rock on.