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7 May, 2008 08:57

Meet President Medvedev

Dmitry Medvedev has been Putin’s right-hand man since becoming the Russian Government’s Deputy Chief of Staff in 1999. But now the world’s eyes are on Medvedev – so what is Russia’s new president really like?

He has a great sense of humour, according to Political Analyst Aleksey Mukhin.

“But at the same time he's a cold, level-headed lawyer. And it makes him a very good administrator,” he says.

“He doesn't make friends very easily, but once he does – he values them. And he's a very flexible man, too. The fact he's a liberal – that's a myth. He is using that to his advantage. He's not a leftist or rightist, he's not 'red' or 'green' – he's a pragmatic but not cynical leader, with great abilities and a quick legal mind,” he added.

Medvedev’s ambition was evident from an early age.

“Boys usually want to be pilots or drivers. He said from the very start that he wanted to be a lawyer, because he wanted to know everything,” one of his school teachers recalls.

Medvedev’s steady rise

He graduated from Leningrad University with a PhD in Law and he worked at the Leningrad City Council from 1990.

In 1994, Medvedev worked for a St. Petersburg-based timber company as legal affairs director and became an advisor to the mayor's office. That’s where he met Deputy Mayor Vladimir Putin.

In 1999, Putin became the country's Prime Minister and with him he brought a number of trusted colleagues. Medvedev was appointed Russia's government Deputy Chief of Staff.

After he ran Putin's successful election campaign of 2000, he was elected chairman of Russia's energy giant Gazprom.

Under Medvedev Russia's gas giant secured deals with former Soviet republics and became Europe's chief supplier of energy resources.

In 2005, Medvedev became Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister and was entrusted with overseeing the Council for National Projects.

The programme was aimed at developing social welfare in the country by pumping money into four selected areas – education, public health, housing and agriculture.

Medvedev comes to the job with perhaps the best reference possible – from arguably Russia’s most popular leader ever.

“I have known Dmitry Medvedev for a long time, and I am sure that all his personal qualities, and his experience will guarantee his success as the country's top man. He is an honest, progressive, open-minded young man. And I trust him,” Vladimir Putin said.