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Dmitry Medvedev served under Vladimir Putin and succeeded him as president of Russia in 2008.
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Soon after Medvedev accepted the position, a former student of Sobchak's named Vladimir Putin also took a job under the newly elected chairman. Because Putin was older and had more experience, he was given the role of senior adviser and worked closely with Medvedev.
In 1991, Sobchak was elected mayor of St. Petersburg. Though Medvedev was ready to leave the political game and practice law full-time,
he relates that newly installed deputy mayor Vladimir Putin and he "agreed that I would serve as a freelance expert for the committee that he headed. We worked in that way for the next four years until Sobchak's team left Smolny Palace [a historical building and residence of the governor of St Petersburg] after losing the elections."
During his time working in the political realm and teaching law, Medvedev also helped found two successful companies and authored legal textbooks, one of which won an award. He also held the position of legal affairs director at Ilim Pulp Enterprise, which became the largest lumber company in Russia.
The call for Dmitry Medvedev to go to Moscow to enter state politics came in 1999. His colleague Vladimir Putin was appointed Prime Minister by then-president Boris Yeltsin, and then, when Yeltsin left office before the end of his term, was appointed to the presidency. While working in the Moscow government, Medvedev's work ethic and smarts, as well as Putin's liking for him, created the right conditions for him to rise through the government ranks with great speed. In 2000, Putin had to defend his appointment to the presidency by winning an election, and Medvedev was his campaign manager.
When Putin won the election, he put Medvedev in charge of five very public national projects, which Medvedev describes as "a serious and concerted effort to modernize our social sector and, as far as the agriculture project goes, develop rural life in general." This position posed new challenges to Medvedev because he had to become, he says, "someone who not only makes decisions — after all, I made decisions during my work in the Presidential Executive Office — but also has to announce and explain these decisions to the public, inform people and justify the need for these plans, and do so in convincing fashion." He had ceased to be an organizer in the wings and had stepped into a leading role.
Putin's second presidential term ended in 2008, and because of term limits he was not able to run again. He hand-picked Dmitry Medvedev as his successor, who announced soon after Putin's public endorsement that, if elected, he would appoint Putin to the position of Prime Minister. When Medvedev won the election with approximately 70 percent of the vote, he kept his promise. This has led some critics and observers to speculate that Medvedev is a mouthpiece for Putin. However, Medvedev has proven to be more liberal than Putin on a number of issues, and has also had a less contentious relationship with the West on such issues as nuclear defense agreements.
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