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   New Russian Leader’s Mandate for Changing Little

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4/17/2008 8:30 am

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New York Times

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News

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Entered 4/17/2008, Updated 4/17/2008

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By CLIFFORD J. LEVY Published: April 17, 2008 MOSCOW — Will Dmitri A. Medvedev ever be his own man? That question, which arose soon after President Vladimir V. Putin named Mr. Medvedev as his successor, has yet to be settled. If anything, the notion has only deepened in recent weeks that while Mr. Medvedev will occupy the Kremlin after May 7, Mr. Putin will continue to control it from his new post as prime minister. Still, whether or not this will be a proper or effective arrangement, it seems to be one that many Russians want. In December, Mr. Putin, who is limited to two terms under the Russian Constitution, endorsed Mr. Medvedev, a first deputy prime minister and longtime aide. With the Kremlin championing his candidacy and using its authority to squeeze the opposition, Mr. Medvedev coasted to victory on March 2. Since then, he has unveiled no major staff appointments, changes in the structure of government or strikingly new proposals. While heir to almighty czars and general secretaries, he comes across as the dutiful senior bureaucrat he once was, a former law professor who seems more interested in doing a line-by-line budget analysis for fiscal 2010 than in rousing this nation forward. He gives speeches calling for more housing and less corruption, faster Internet connections and an assortment of other unobjectionable measures. He reviews legislation with aides and greets an occasional head of state. Sometimes, he is shown on television mustering up a public scolding of a ham-handed government agency, as if he were trying out a few tough-guy mannerisms picked up from his mentor, Mr. Putin.


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