Russia’s outgoing President Dmitri Medvedev has long touted himself as the country’s first high-tech leader. Medvedev blogs, he posts videos, and, now — with just weeks left in his presidency — he has proven the inadvertent master of the Twitter trend.
During this week’s nuclear arms summit in Seoul, President Barack Obama and Medvedev made headlines when a private discussion about U.S. proposals for a missile defense shield in Europe was picked up by a microphone.
The American press — not to mention the Republican presidential candidates — seized on Obama’s comments that he would be in a more “flexible” place to negotiate the issue after his re-election.
Russia’s twitterati, meanwhile, have devoted their attention to Medvedev’s promise to Obama to “pass this on to Vladimir.”
Vladimir, of course, refers to Vladimir Putin, Russia’s carousel prime minister/president, who was elected to a third term at the Kremlin’s top spot this month after Medvedev declined to fight for the post. Medvedev’s willingness to step aside for Putin disappointed many Russians, particularly in Moscow, and helped spawn a wave of opposition-led protests this winter.
The Russian translation of the phrase #владимиру («to Vladimir») quickly became a “trending topic,” as Russians wryly noted that Medvedev would pass on everything to Vladimir May 7, the day Putin is set to be sworn in.
But Medvedev wasn’t done.
Who let the cat out?
The next day, Medvedev again soared in the Twitter rankings after a tabloid published news that the Russian leader’s beloved cat “Dorofei” had run away from the presidential compound outside of Moscow.
“Run Dorofei Run!” became one common meme. “It’s obvious they wanted to give Dorofei to Vladimir,” wrote another. “I know who has your cat” posted a third, alongside a photo of Obama and Dorofei. And a favorite photo passed around on Twitter, shown here on the left, had Putin wearing a conspicuously large fur hat and accompanied by this caption: “Dorofei? Nope, I haven’t seen him.”
Ultimately, even Medvedev weighed in if only to clarify: Dorofei had never gone missing. “Thank you for your concern,” he wrote.
Still, one more tweet came down the pipe, this time from the satirical “Kermlin,” a Twitter user who has mocked Medvedev’s high-tech adventures in office over the past four years. “This whole wasted presidency, and all Medevdev found was his cat.”