On my mother's side, my family has its roots in the town of Alekseyevka in Belgorod Region. My maternal grandfather and grandmother were born there, lived there, and it is one of the places that has a special meaning for me. To be honest, I have not actually been there myself, but I know I still have relatives there. Some of them have the surname Kovalyov, and some of them have the surname Shaposhnikov, which is my grandmother and grandfather's name.
Conversation with journalists from the Central Federal District January 24, 2008
I think I had a good childhood and a good family. My parents were teachers: my father taught at a technology institute (he was an academic, a specialist in technology), and my mother taught Russian language and literature and worked in various educational establishments. Two important things in my childhood were sport (I was into kayaking) and books, and this determined what sort of interests I would pursue.
Conversation with journalists from the Urals Federal District January 17, 2008
QUESTION: Do you have a favourite [literary] hero?
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: It's hard to name a hero. I can tell you which writers I like most. Ever since childhood I've very much liked Chekhov, Bunin, and quite a few of Dostoyevsky's works. In our literature classes, back during my Soviet schooldays, we analysed the characters of various heroes, of course, but those were school lessons and I am not a literature teacher.
To be honest, I didn't give much thought as a child to what I would like to do when I grew up. I liked being out and about, playing games, playing sport, but later, as I grew a bit older, there were several professions that interested me. I wanted to go into chemistry (I really liked the chemistry experiments we did in school), and I also wanted to become a teacher. In the end I worked as a teacher for a while when I began working at the university.
From a conversation with guests at a reception to mark the opening of the Year of the Family December 24, 2007
Like any normal person, I felt unease inside when the Soviet Union ceased to exist. It was hard to understand, an unpleasant feeling. I still remember the moment: I went on a business trip to Germany. I left from the Soviet Union but returned to a different country. It came as a great shock for me. As a lawyer, I looked at the situation differently to others and realised that just renaming the state would not be the end of it… Fortunately, though it found itself on the knife's edge, Russia managed to avoid collapse and full-scale civil war.
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Igor Sechin called me and said that Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] wanted to talk to me. I said, 'good, I'll come'. It was Saturday and he'd arrived from somewhere, tired out after some trip or other. We talked and he made me the offer to head the Federal Securities Market Commission.
I was interested in this subject in an academic sense, and had a bit of practical experience too, though I am not a stockbroker. The subject interested me. I even wanted to write my second doctoal dissertation on something related to securities. I said that the offer interested me but that I needed a few days to think it over. I returned to St Petersburg, discussed it with my family and then said I was ready. I came to Moscow a month later to take up the job of deputy Government chief of staff. Dmitry Kozak was Government chief of staff at that time. We agreed that I would work for a couple of weeks or a month to get a feel for administrative life, and then I would receive my official appointment to the post.
But events developed fast at that time. Vladimir Vladimirovich said, 'look, if you want, I'm ready to sign the appointment to the Federal Securities Market Commission straight away, or you can stay here, with the Government'. The securities commission was a job with substance, dealing with a big and growing market and interesting issues, while the Government offered the prospect of administrative work, something I'd never desired to get involved in and that seemed boring. But whether it was through some premonition or I don't know what, I said, 'for the time being I'll stay here and help out'. He said, 'alright, that's fine, I understand'. That was on December 29, 1999. Then, on December 31, 1999, as acting President, he signed a decree appointing me deputy chief of staff of the Presidential Executive Office, which I only found about while being in St Petersburg to celebrate the New Year.
QUESTION: Were you aware then of the publications that had already appeared saying that there was a certain...
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Young man?
QUESTION: Yes, that there was a certain young man from St Petersburg, from [Anatoly] Sobchak's old team, and that people in the presidential staff were saying this was the future chief of staff of the Presidential Executive Office.
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: I don't know about the rumours that were doing the rounds at the time. In his book, Vladimir Vladimirovich did indeed mention this, but he never raised this matter with me. It was a big moral test when he called me at the start of the year, on January 5, 2000, and said he'd like me to head his campaign headquarters. I said, 'are you sure?' I'm a decent legal specialist and able, I think, to deal with various issues, but I had never been involved in an election of this sort, the presidential election what's more. He said, 'don't worry, everything will be fine'.
A very interesting time followed with the work at the headquarters that I was in charge of. I got enormous satisfaction out of this work, out of being part of this most important political process and out of knowing that a lot depended on me, as one of the components in this machine. It was a test to see what I was worth.
QUESTION: What does a great Russia mean for you? Or do you prefer some other choice of words?
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: I'm not such a fan of grandiloquent talk. I think that civil servants, and people holding constitutional office even more so, should refrain from pathos and concentrate on concrete work.
Like any normal Russian, I love my country. I love its history and I love the particular spiritual world that is interwoven in our life, but this is something quite personal, something I think should be somewhere inside a person's heart. How can you be a normal citizen if you don't love your country? How can you live in your country otherwise? But if we put this love too much on display it immediately creates a feeling of insincerity.
QUESTION: Have you developed a taste for being in the public eye?
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: I don't have the impression that I've turned into someone with a craving for publicity, like a drug. There's that type of politician that people call a political animal, but I don't have the impression at all so far of having become one. My name might be Medvedev [derived from the Russian for 'bear'], but I don't think I've become any sort of animal in this sense, that's for sure. I don't feel any urge to always have the camera on me.
At the same time though, I have changed in some ways. If I hadn't it would be hard to do what I'm doing now. There came a point when I realised that it wasn't so difficult any more. At the beginning it irritated me. I was always thinking that I could do things faster, more efficiently, if I didn't have all these people snapping their cameras around me. In other words, 95 percent of everything I do and have done, can be done out of the public eye. But the laws of political life are such that the country has to know what the authorities are doing. We did not invent these laws and we are not about to change them. I think this is probably right. It no longer irritates me, and that is a big step forward.
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: If I were living at the end of the nineteenth century I could probably answer this question with no trouble. Having read my fill of the finest works of classical Russian literature, I could give a direct answer to the question. But the world has changed and we need to take a modern view today, and so my first priority is Russia's interests.
I always liked my work. It's interesting to work when you see the results of your efforts. In that sense I'm a fortunate person. Of course, there is also great responsibility. This can create a lot of stress, and so I find myself having to practice sport more intensively than before. I need to keep myself in shape. I manage to find an hour a day in the morning and evening for swimming and the gym.
I am quite an active Internet user - I was even before entering public service, when the Internet was still something exotic. I think that anyone who wants to be a part of modern life simply has to know this technology and use it actively.
I can tell you how my day begins. I turn on my computer and look at the news. I look at the sites of our main television channels where the main news items are already up, and I look at the sites of the main Russian and foreign media outlets. Some of the Russian sites I look at take a loyal line with regard to the authorities, while others staunchly oppose the authorities.
If you really want to, you'll find the time to raise your children and listen to music. Everything else is just laziness. You can always use your own laziness as a pretext and say that there's not enough time for everything. I still find time to listen to rock music. I began listening to it when I was about 13-14. A home-grown rock music scene was starting to develop in the Soviet Union at that time. Although it made use of the same musical principles, instruments and arrangements found all around the world, our rock music was always based very much on the texts too, unlike English-language rock music, which, to be honest, was always a lot more primitive. Our songs were protest songs, songs with a social message and simply music that was about our life, about all its different aspects.
But one needs to do more than just listen to rock music. One should listen to classical music too. Rock music and classical music are very close. Rock, jazz, and classical music are all part of one and the same musical process. One should also read good books - a real way to relax - and then everything will go well.
Conversation with journalists from the Urals Federal District January 17, 2007