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Meet Dmitri Medvedev

Russia's new president loves Deep Purple, shuns alcohol.

By Compiled by Christa Case Bryant / May 7, 2008



Dmitri Medvedev's character and tastes

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Active: Swims for an hour every morning and evening, sleeping only from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m.

Teetotaler: Favors lighter fare – sushi is his current favorite – and shuns alcohol, but not ice cream and candy.

Finicky: Won't let anyone else feed the fish in his office fish tank.

Precocious: Modern Russia's youngest head of state. Met wife Svetlana at age 7.

Discriminating: Disdains going to the movies, preferring instead to view "serious" European and Russian films at home – but confesses to an occasional Hollywood flick.

Dapper: Fellow students remember him in a suit with a briefcase at his side.

Rocker: A fan of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple – bands that were all cool but blacklisted when he was a teen in the '70s.

Edgy: Decided at age 23 to be baptized into the Russian Orthodox Church, when the Soviet government frowned upon it.

Intellectual: Born to two professors, he likes Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, and chess.

His career

• After law school, campaigned for his former professor, Anatoly Sobchak, who was pushing the envelope on free markets and political pluralism amid a crumbling Soviet Union. When the KGB confiscated the campaign's leaflets on the eve of the parliamentary elections, he worked all night to reprint them by hand. Sobchak won, and went on to become St. Petersburg's mayor.

• Shared a desk in the mayor's office with Vladimir Putin, on whose coattails he would glide into the presidency. Former city council member Dmitry Lenkov told Newsweek recently that Medvedev was a "hardly noticeable gray mouse .... [Mr.] Putin made all the decisions, Medvedev did the legwork."

• In 2000, ran Putin's presidential campaign. He went on to lead major reform efforts, including five "national projects" – agriculture, demographics, education, healthcare, and housing.

• Steered clear of factions in the Kremlin, aligning himself with fellow St. Petersburg lawyers known for a more liberal bent on economic and foreign policy. Distanced himself from the Kremlin ideology of "sovereign democracy" – seen by critics as a euphemism for authoritarianism.

• Oversaw the resurgence of state energy giant Gazprom from 2002 to February 2008. Deep Purple came on short notice to play at his Gazprom farewell party.

Sources: Pravda.ru; Bloomberg; RIA Novosti; Russia Profile; Newsweek; RFERL; U.S. News and World Report; Helsingin Sanomat; The Washington Post

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