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Medvedev's legacy in Russia: small victories in Putin's shadows

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No defining accomplishment?

Medvedev, who gave his final interview as president to a group of journalists today, suggested that civil rights and personal freedoms have expanded since he came to office four years ago. "Freedom is a unique concept that everyone interprets differently," he said. "Let's ask people [who took part in opposition demonstrations] in the streets if they feel freedom."

Following Putin's inauguration next month, Medvedev is set to become prime minister, the position Putin nominally held for the past four years. Last September Putin and Medvedev publicly admitted that they'd agreed years ago to switch jobs – a maneuver Russian analysts describe with the chess term "castling."

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But four years after coming to power as Putin's handpicked successor, experts say they are at a loss to find any defining accomplishment of Medvedev's term in the Kremlin.

"We've come to understand that it doesn't matter what Medvedev says. He's clearly not an independent political personage," says Sergei Strokan, a columnist with the Moscow daily Kommersant. "His political future depends on the continuation of the Putin system, of which he is a dependent and obedient part.... We just watched his last interview as president, and it was just as awkward and unconvincing as the whole four years of his presidency."

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