Medvedev - in the shadow of his mentor

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Medvedev - in the shadow of his mentor

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Dmitry Medvedev is a man who advocates a “privileged partnership” with France on the basis of a “spiritual closeness.”

Will he change Russia? In mid-term as Russian President, it remains unclear who Medvedev really is. So is he growing into the role?

Recently he has publicly criticised the old Soviet regime for a variety of reasons. Of Russia’s relative poor showing in the winter Olympics he said: “We have been living on Soviet resources for a long time, resources that have now been used up. We don’t have to idealise the Soviet school. It is over, but our own school is not yet created.”

Since Medvedev took over as President from Vladimir Putin two years ago he has often been described as Putin’s puppet. But recently he is perceived to have distanced himself from his mentor.

So Medvedev it seems wishes to be seen as a reformer, intent on a smooth transition to modernity for Russia. Keen on new technologies, Medvedev likes to be seen as being at the forefront of modernisation.

Last year he delivered a vitriolic denunciation of his country, describing a backward society steeped in corruption. He said the economy was “ineffective” and democracy weak with a strong state presence at all levels. That is an issue Medvedev has attempted to address with sweeping cuts of top police and administration posts. The Ministry of the Interior is coming under close scrutiny over allegations of profiteering from illegal land sales.

With regard to human rights, there has been progress. A year ago Medvedev acknowledged something needed to be done and even if opponents continue to denounce the methods of prime minister Putin, activists are willing to give the benefit of the doubt to President Medvedev.

The promised reforms are eagerly awaited. The global downturn has highlighted the fragility of the Russian economy, especially in places like Kaliningrad where the citizens are 65 times poorer than their EU neighbours.

Dmitry Medvedev – a man seemingly brimming with good intentions. So what is the verdict of the people? According to polls most Russians believe that – although Medvedev is President – nothing should be expected because he is not really leading the country.