Global Insights: How Many More Anniversaries for Medvedev?

Global Insights: How Many More Anniversaries for Medvedev?

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's political legacy is inextricably linked to that of his predecessor, Vladimir Putin, in ways that go beyond mere political lineage.

After then-President Putin endorsed Medvedev to succeed him in December 2007, Medvedev announced his intention, if elected, to name Putin as prime minister. With their slogan, "Together we will win," the two reassured voters that they would continue the popular policies of Putin's presidency. With the backing of Putin and his allies, and with the government restricting the activities of opposition candidates, Medvedev easily won the March 2008 presidential elections with more than 70 percent of the vote. But while his close ties with Putin guaranteed his election, they have also made it difficult for Medvedev to overcome perceptions that he remains little more than Putin's poodle.

Some Russian and Western analysts expected that Medvedev's background in private business and his liberal reputation -- he never joined the Communist Party, or served in the military or intelligence services -- would lead him to roll back some of Putin's authoritarian measures. Such "thaws" were not uncommon in the Soviet era after a change in leadership. Certain observers even thought that Putin had chosen Medvedev as his successor precisely in order to reduce tensions with the West and to take responsibility for moderating some of Putin's earlier decisions.

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