(b. 14 Sept. 1965, Leningrad, USSR)
Russian; First Deputy Prime Minister 2005–8, President 2008– Born into a comfortable middle-class family, Medvedev had both undergraduate and postgraduate success at Leningrad State University. He taught law until 1999, becoming an assistant professor at St Petersburg State University (formerly Leningrad State University). From 1991 to 1996 Medvedev also worked as a legal expert in the office, headed by Vladimir Putin, of Anatoly Sobchak, mayor of St Petersburg, returning to academic life at the end of Sobchak's period in office. Putin appointed Medvedev deputy head of his presidential staff in 1999, and in 2000 Medvedev ran Putin's successful presidential campaign. He was then appointed Putin's first deputy chief of staff and became chairman of Gazprom, the state-owned natural gas monopoly. Medvedev was appointed Putin's chief of presidential staff in 2003 and to the newly created post of First Deputy Prime Minister in 2005. He was an impressive administrator, overseeing various reforms. In 2007 Putin, unable to stand for a third term in the following year's presidential elections under the constitution, designated Medvedev his successor. In accepting, Medvedev stated that he wished Putin to be his Prime Minister, leading many to suspect that Putin would retain much of his influence. In what was his first appearance in an election, Medvedev was elected President of Russia in 2008 with the slogan ‘freedom is better than no freedom’. Medvedev was initially seen as more open to Western ideas, having long admired Western culture, and as more liberal than Putin. In addition, he had no links to the former Soviet Communist Party and was not a member of a political party. However, there was concern in the West when, following tension between Russia and Georgia, Russian forces were sent into South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two Russian enclaves within Georgia, in summer 2008. Medvedev refused to bow to pressure from the West and recognised both South Ossetia and Abkhazia.