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A new Medevedev

Dmitri MedvedevA puppet president no more, Dmitry Medvedev's latest PR campaign seems to be geared towards portraying him as his own man.

Recent headline-grabbing gestures have heralded a switch from the ruling tandem almost tripping over each other in the summer to a clear gap between their activities.

And journalists suggest this could mean the sitting president has no intention of becoming a sitting duck when the 2012 campaign gets underway, despite widespread expectation that his predecessor Vladimir Putin will vacate the prime minister's office and return to the Kremlin.

"As of today, Medvedev, I'd say, is more likely to stay for the second term than he was several months ago," Russia Profile Editor-in-Chief Andrei Zolotov told The Moscow News.

Keeping the media on its toes

Medvedev's press team announced on Friday that he would be boycotting next February's Munich security meeting, just two days after hosting the meeting's visiting session.

Ducking out of traditional events and shuffling upcoming meetings, which has been happening more frequently according to a Kremlin source, throws an element of unpredictability into the president's hitherto stable image and makes it harder for the press to pigeon-hole him.

Asserting himself

It is time for him to distinguish his role more sharply from the prime minister's, said Alexei Makarkin, deputy director of the Centre for Political Technologies. "His personality does not show through if he holds a meeting about fish two weeks after the prime minister has done the same thing. In fact, if the president duplicates the prime-minister then you ask 'what exactly are they doing that is different from one another?'" he told Nezavizamaya Gazeta.

But this does not mean that the two men themselves appear the same. "In general his image has always been distinct from Putin's" Zolotov told The Moscow News. Medvedev repeating Putin's publicity stunts, like driving a Pobeda car from the Ukrainian border after Putin had completed his own road trip "only speak of a poverty of imagination of their respective PR teams".

"I would say that Medvedev's image has always been distinct from Putin, the question was always whether that image was better or worse received by the public and whether it generated more or less respect," he added.

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