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Early Life and Education

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Medvedev was born on Sept. 14, 1965, in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) to parents both university professors steeped in the intellectual culture of the Soviet Unions most liberal city. His father, Anatoly, was a physicist who taught at a polytechnic institute, and his mother, Yulia, taught Russian language and literature.

Medvedev grew up in a 400-square-foot apartment in the Kupchino, a Leningrad suburb. Money was tight, and he recalled a frugal Soviet upbringing. He attended School No. 305. His parents tried to push him toward an interest in science, but from the beginning, he showed an interest in law. From an early age, he enjoyed foreign rock music that resided on the blacklist in Soviet times. In the tradition of the times, he obsessively collected copies of groups like Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, through a practice known as samizdat.

In seventh grade, he met his future wife, Svetlana. They married several years after their graduation from secondary school in 1982 (the photo above shows them together). They have a son named Ilya (born 1996).

Medvedev entered law school at Leningrad State University in the autumn of 1982. More than a decade apart, both Medvedev and Putin took courses from Anatoly Sobchak, an outspoken Democrat and the future mayor of St. Petersburg. As a student, Medvedev supplemented his stipend by working in construction and as a street cleaner. At age 23, he chose to be baptized into the Russian Orthodox Church, which held no favor with the Soviet government of the time.

He graduated in 1987 and then decided to continue on to a doctorate which he completed in 1990. He specialized in private, corporate and securities law. Fellow students said he wore a suit and carried a briefcase.

Medvedev is shorter than his presidential predecessor, Putin, at 5 feet, 4 inches. He swims nearly one mile, twice a day. He also jogs, plays chess, and practices yoga. Medvedev is often described as studious, mild-mannered and quiet. As his public profile heightened, he learned to speak more directly, lost weight and his features became more chiseled. He still enjoys classic rock music. His favorite band, Deep Purple, played at his going away party as Gazproms chairman in February 2008.

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