Russian Language Blog

Putin and Medvedev: Different Roles Posted by on Oct 28, 2015 in Culture, History, News

Many of us will remember that Vladimir Putin was once the Russian President. After his terms were up he became the Russian Prime Minister. And now, once again, he is the Russian President. What is the difference between the Russian President and the Russian Prime Minister? We will explore that difference today because change is always just around the corner:-)

In my opinion, the easiest way to show the difference between the two important roles is to list some of their powers and responsibilities as they are listed in the current constitution.

President Vladimir Putin’s powers and responsibilities include but are not limited to:

1. Being Head of State with an office in the Kremlin,

2. Commanding the armed forces and being in charge of the nuclear arsenal,

3. Appointing and being “boss” to the Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev,

4. Defending Russia’s sovereignty,

5. Having the spy services, Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry, Interior Ministry, Justice Ministry, and Emergency Ministry all report to him,

6. Appointing the head of the central bank which currently is Elvira Nabiullina,

7. Posing for interesting photos for all the world to see.


Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, has these power’s and responsibilities:

1. Heading the cabinet of ministers from his office in the Russian White House,

2. Once again becoming president should something happen to President Putin,

3. Coordinating fiscal and economic policy,

4. Setting prices for things such as electricity and gas,

5. Having civilian ministries such as education and health reporting directly to him,

6. Controlling social, labor, and migration policies,

7. Doing anything else that President Putin needs done.

It would seem that in Russia, the most powerful man would be the president. Some may argue that these roles will take on a different meaning depending upon the man occupying them. For example, many believed that when Dmitry Medvedev was president, then-prime minister Putin, was the most powerful man in Russia. Some would even argue that certain prime ministers helped to make changes to the constitution to allow others to be elected back into office once their maximum allowable terms were over. Who knows, perhaps Dmitry Medvedev will again be the Russian President. As I lived in America during Medvedev’s presidency, I noticed how Putin still received much of the press and attention that he enjoyed in his prior role. Now that Medvedev is Russia’s Prime Minister, he gets little press in America. I suppose that if Putin managed a McDonald’s franchise, he’d still command attention. This is simply my observation and it may differ from yours.

For your enjoyment, here is a cute little video including Dmitry Medvedev as president and Vladimir Putin as prime minister. Let it never be said that these two, very accomplished men, are not talented in many ways:-)

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About the Author: Jenya

Born in Russia, I spent the first twenty years of my life in Orenburg, Russia and Mogilev, Belarus. For the last eleven years, I've lived in New Hampshire and Michigan, US. While I continue to absorb and adapt to American culture, I am always thrilled to share my Russian heritage with those who find it interesting. Travel, photography and art play a special part in my life. Twitter: @iamnx2u


  1. Randy S.:

    Thank you for explaining the difference. I have always wondered why there is a need for a president and a prime minister and who is really in control. With all the press that Putin gets it seems that he has always been in control. I have always wanted to go to Russia. Do you think it is better here in the U.S.A.?