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Medvedev's Secret Little Brother?

Are there skeletons in the presidential closet?

Are there skeletons in the presidential closet?

The St. Petersburg-based website has published an article claiming that local businessman Mikhail Anatolevich Medvedev is the illegitimate younger half-brother of President Dmitry Medvedev. According to his official biography, President Medvedev is an only child.

Mikhail Medvedev, 35, is the general director of the TsDS construction firm, although the company's website does not provide any information about its management. The website reportedly interviewed an unnamed source at the city traffic police who said Medvedev drives a 600,000-euro Maybach 57 with state license plates and has a driver who is "a former law enforcement officer."

The website admits that it has "no direct confirmation" that Mikhail Medvedev is related to the president, but it presents some interesting circumstantial evidence.

For one thing, when their correspondent called TsDS and posed the question directly, the company's deputy PR director, Aleksandr Shalnov, reportedly responded with nervous hostility. The website published what it claims is the audio and a transcript of that conversation, in which Shalnov refuses to deny the relationship and then threatens the site's editor:

Reporter: Is Mikhail Anatolevich Medvedev related to the president of Russia?
Shalnov: Does it matter?
Reporter: Well, yes. My editor wants to know. He asked me to call and find out.
Shalnov: No comment. And you know what? I will personally shoot that editor of yours. Do you understand? I'm not kidding. I will come and...bang.
Reporter: We just wanted....
Shalnov: One word about it and that's it. I'm serious; I will bury you. I'm telling you straight. No comment. Forget that I even talked to you. Who are you -- Karina? Forget it -- I'm telling you personally.

In subsequent discussions, the website says, Shalnov denied the company's general director was related to the president and handled himself "politely."

The site also notes that TsDS was created in 1999, the same year that Medvedev's career took off. On the president's website, Medvedev recalls how in October 1999, Igor Sechin -- who is now first deputy prime minister and one of the most powerful figures in Vladimir Putin's inner circle -- called him and said, "Vladimir Vladimirovich wants to talk to you...." That marked the beginning of Medvedev's Moscow career.

Over the last decade, TsDS has emerged as one of the largest construction firms in St. Petersburg, doing much of its business directly with the city administration. The company has reportedly benefitted enormously from a decree on the construction of residential housing, which was one of the first measures Medvedev signed after becoming president last May.

In late 1999, the then-25-year-old Mikhail Medvedev reportedly struck and killed a pedestrian. A criminal investigation was opened, but quickly stalled. It was quietly terminated on September 14, 2000, the website reports. The site quotes an unnamed lawyer as saying the case was a typical example of "telephone justice" and was closed "in connection with changed circumstances."

The website says it tried and failed to track down anyone related to Mikhail Medvedev. Journalists were only able to find one photograph of Medvedev, despite the prominent role of his company. TsDS PR spokesman Shalnov told the website Mikhail Medvedev's father was a submariner from Estonia but declined to provide his name. Shalnov said Medvedev graduated from the Leningrad Polytechnic Institute in 1996 and then from the State Service Academy -- both institutes confirmed this information.

The website says it will continue investigating.

-- Robert Coalson

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at