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8 Jun, 2008 09:29

From 'puppet president' to 'long-lost cousin': World press on Medvedev

Western newspapers have given Dmitry Medvedev warm praise for his comments in Saint Petersburg and Berlin in the past few days. Medvedev in Berlin was “conciliatory, almost gentle in parts”, according to London’s Times.

The newspaper said his approach was “starkly different to Mr Putin's performance at the last-but-one Munich security conference, in which he warned against a new Cold War.”

“Germany is more heavily dependent than any other western European society on Russian energy imports, and it is the most eager to establish a Russia-EU partnership agreement,” reports the Times.

Medvedev “showed muscle” in his first major foreign policy speech, according to the Washington Post. It writes that his warning against incorporating Russia's ex-Soviet neighbours into NATO “continued the course of Vladimir Putin”. But the paper also admitted that Medvedev sounded more conciliatory.

The Financial Times notes that Medvedev, who they describe as a softly spoken former lawyer, seemed keen to distinguish himself from Vladimir Putin.

In particular, the paper wrote that Medvedev underlined the need for press freedom and greater independence for non-governmental groups in Russia.

Germany's national daily Die Welt considers the fact that Dmitry Medvedev chose Germany as the first west European country to visit as president “a gesture of support of liberalism and reforms in his land.”

Medvedev’s speech in St Petersburg, where he alluded to America’s failure to manage its economic capabilities, also gained attention.

The New York Times carries sections from the speech, with emphasis on Medvedev’s “economic egoism” and “economic nationalism” quotes.

Medvedev, however, was not always praised by the media abroad.

On being elected, the Times of London named him ‘a puppet president’ always following his predecessor Vladimir Putin.
The daily has also claimed that Russians did not take their new president seriously. “One recent poll found that two thirds of Russians believed that Mr Putin would control Mr Medvedev,” reported the daily.

The New York Times had earlier called Medvedev a “young protégé” of Vladimir Putin.

“His path to office had been assured since December, when Mr Putin, who under the Constitution could not seek a third consecutive term, endorsed him,” the daily reported.