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2 Mar, 2009 16:47

A tough year in office for Medvedev

Dmitry Medvedev has marked one year since being elected Russian president. RT reviews how the president's decisions have reflected on the nation and how expectations for the future are changing.

Endorsed by his widely popular predecessor, Dmitry Medvedev got about 70 per cent of the popular vote. Though his rise to power may seem relatively trouble-free, his presidency is quite the opposite.

August conflict

Just a few months after the election Russia became involved in the Georgia-South Ossetia conflict in order to save the lives of the South Ossetians, most of whom carry Russian passports, from the advancing Georgian forces.

“It’s not an easy choice. But it’s the only way,” Medvedev then said.

When this address made its way on to TV screens, the President’s press secretary Natalya Timakova’s mobile phone immediately began ringing off the hook. She says the past year was full of unpleasant surprises.

“First of all, there were the August events, with the conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia, which required extraordinary moves from Russia – when it had to protect its compatriots and Russian peacekeepers by military action. And naturally, as not many of us expected, there’s the world economic crisis and this issue has become the most important for the President over the last six months,” Natalia Timakova said.

Economy matters

The most striking change is the expectations placed on the president. A year ago it was all about spearheading growth. Today it’s about stemming the decline. Due to the global financial crisis, Russia’s GDP forecast went from a 7 per cent rise in 2008 to a 2 per cent drop in 2009.

“We’ve been very slow… Unacceptably slow for the time of crises… We haven’t done anything so far apart from talking… Just talking and talking,” Dmitry Medvedev said in February.

‘Medvedev listens to opposition’ – communists

The Communist party of Russia say it’s too early to come out with its overall assessment after only one year of Medvedev’s presidency. However, they note that for now the impression is ‘positive in general’ and add that the president is eager to pay attention to the opposition’s point of view.

“At this moment, the impressions in general are more positive than I expected,” said Deputy Chairman of the party Ivan Melnikov. “The president showed that he can not only listen, but also pay attention to the problems that we highlight,” he added.

However, Communists note they are not satisfied with the general political course the country’s government is performing. “We don’t see any changes concerning this issue,” said Melnikov.

The Communist party Deputy Chairman also noted that due to the global financial crisis the president has to juggle a huge flow of bad news every day.

“Psychologically, he does everything right, trying to bring a more optimistic mood to the country’s people,” Melnikov said.