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(How do you say first lady in Russian?)

First lady steps out of Medvedev's shadow

First lady steps out of Medvedev's shadow Before he became president this week, Dmitri Medvedev and his wife Svetlana Medvedeva rarely appeared together inpublic. But since Svetlana showed up in her stilettos to vote in Sunday's elections, Russia's glamorous new first lady has been making quite an impression.

While Medvedev is known as a shy and uncomfortable bureaucrat, his childhood sweetheart Svetlana is the opposite: a gregarious blonde socialite described in Russia's weekly business magazine Expert as being "strong and imperious". She is frequently spotted at parties, counts pop singer Alla Pugachova and fashion designer Valentin Yudashkin among her friends, and knows how to make sushi, the Moscow elite's food du jour. An economics graduate, she is also a devout Orthodox Christian and heads a special commission set up by Russia's Patriarch Alexi II to promote spiritual values among Russia's youth.

Svetlana's exact age is guarded like a state secret but she is thought to have been born in 1965, the same year as her husband. The couple first met at school when both were just seven years old; they were 14-year-olds when their romance blossomed. "Dima [Dmitri] was just one of several suitors," an ex-classmate told Sobesednik magazine. "He was quite shy and there were more aggressive guys chasing after her."

by The3rdColumn on Tue Mar 4th, 2008 at 06:15:21 PM EST

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