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Dmitry Medvedev

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Updated: 19.11.2003

Dmitry Medvedev, acting head of the Russia's presidential administration

Dmitry Medvedev, who was named head of the presidential administration on October 30, 2003, after the resignation of Aleksandr Voloshin, was born in Leningrad (see St Petersburg)in 1965. In 1990, he earned a doctorate in law from Leningrad State University, subsequently becoming an assistant professor at the university.

The local authorities took note of Medvedev's abilities, and from 1990 until 1995 he served as an adviser to the chairman of the city's Legislative Assembly and a legal consultant to the External Relations Committee of the St. Petersburg mayor's office. At that time, Anatolii Sobchak was the city's mayor, and Vladimir Putin headed the External Relations Committee.

In November 1993, Medvedev also joined Ilim Pulp Enterprise, a St. Petersburg-based timber company, as its legal affairs director. In 1998, he was elected a member of the board of the Bratskii LPK paper mill.

In November 1999, Putin, who had just a few months earlier been appointed prime minister, named Medvedev deputy head of the government apparatus. When Putin became acting president at the end of 1999, he made Medvedev a deputy head of the presidential administration in charge of personnel and the president's schedule, and elevated him in 2000 to the rank of first deputy chief of staff. Putin also tapped Medvedev to run his campaign for the March 2000 presidential election.

In June 2000, Medvedev was elected chairman of the board of Gazprom, replacing Viktor Chernomyrdin. In April 2001, Medvedev was made chairman of a 15-member working group set up to look into reforming the 38 percent state-owned gas monopoly.

Most observers agree that Medvedev is unswerving in his loyalty to Putin, and he has shown himself ready to defend Putin's interests vigorously. For example, in an interview published in the 16 February 2000 edition of "Nezavisimaya gazeta" - while he was heading Putin's presidential campaign - Medvedev said he hoped the presidential contest would not lead to an "information war." He added, however, that if anybody tried "to declare such a war on us, we will find an effective and, as military men sometimes say, asymmetrical response."

In the next breath, Medvedev implied he was joking about the "asymmetrical response." But on 4 March 2000, Putin's campaign headquarters issued a statement accusing some media of a "tendentious approach" and "one-sidedness" in covering Putin, mentioning by name "Segodnya," the now-defunct newspaper belonging to oligarch Vladimir Gusinsky's Media-MOST.

The headquarters said it would continue to monitor all instances of "lies" concerning Putin and reserved the right to use "all means available in its arsenal" for "an 'asymmetrical' answer to the provocations." When Gazprom took over most of Gusinskii's media holdings the following year, Medvedev was chairman of the gas giant's board of directors.

In 2000, Putin tapped Medvedev to head a presidential-administration commission on civil-service reform. Medvedev declared in 2002 that "civil servants must be held accountable for any harm they cause the state by issuing incompetent directives or divulging state secrets." On the basis of the commission's work, the Kremlin in September introduced legislation that would, among other things, make nepotism more difficult and require civil servants to fill out income and property declarations.

In January 2001, "Novaya gazeta" reported that Medvedev and Mikhail Krasnov, a former presidential legal adviser, had drafted a series of amendments to the Russian Constitution. The proposed changes would have increased the presidential term from four to five years, reintroduced the post of vice president -- with the vice president serving simultaneously as prime minister -- and consolidated some 30 central Russian regions into six or seven, the newspaper reported. This report, however, has never been officially confirmed and the Kremlin has said several times that the constitution will not be altered.

The conventional wisdom now is that Dmitry Medvedev lacks the prodigious administrative skills of Voloshin, who was able to turn the chief-of-staff position into the de facto second-most-powerful post in the country. This could mean either that the president will take more of the chief of staff's tasks upon himself, or that they will devolve to the two powerful representatives of the siloviki faction within the Kremlin administration - deputy presidential administration heads Viktor Ivanov and Igor Sechin.

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