, MOSCOW, Mar 27 – Kremlin critics and Russian bloggers on Tuesday mercilessly mocked President Dmitry Medvedev after microphones picked up him promising to “transmit” a message from Barack Obama to Vladimir Putin.
“I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir,” Medvedev was heard telling Obama in English in a “hot-mike” exchange on the sidelines of a summit in South Korea that has already caused a storm in the United States.
Medvedev was responding to a vow by Obama that the United States will be more flexible on some bilateral issues such as missile defence once, as he expects, he is re-elected as US president in November elections.
Russian bloggers immediately circulated Medvedev’s phrase on Twitter, ridiculing Medvedev for his apparent admission that all information needs to go through the all-powerful Russian number one Putin.
“Today, let’s all respond to every tweet: ‘I will transmit this to Vladimir’,” tweeted opposition movement leader Alexei Navalny, who propelled the phrase into the ranks of Russian Internet memes.
“Vladimiru”, the Russian for “to Vladimir” became a worldwide Twitter trend in a matter of a couple of hours Tuesday morning as bloggers used it as a universal response to any sort of statement or demand.
Medvedev is already widely seen as a lame duck head of state as he will cede the Kremlin on May 7 after four years in power to president-elect Putin, even though he is expected to become prime minister.
“I am Dima, I don’t want to make any decisions. I will transmit to Vladimir,” tweeted @sult, using the familiar name for Dmitry.
Bloggers circulated an image of Putin answering his cell phone in the country side, with the caption saying “Hello, I am Vladimir. Did anyone transmit anything to me?”
Medvedev, who was picked as his successor by Putin in 2008, was never able to shake off his reputation as a president who is not entirely first in command.
Last September similar footage made its way onto the Internet of Medvedev pushing finance minister Alexei Kudrin to quit at a government meeting, to which Kudrin replied “I will consult with the prime minister.”
Commentators have said that Medvedev simply kept the presidential throne warm while Putin’s reign was paused due to the constitutional requirement of serving only two consecutive terms.