We in the West are accustomed to seeing the spouse of a government leader traveling with a leader. Michelle Obama frequently travels with the USA President on foreign trips. In fact, on his first trip to Moscow the Obama’s took their children along—the opportunity to have their daughters soak in the grand Kremlin palace, the history of Red Square and a civilization over 1,000 years old was too much to resist.
But Russians are not used to families traveling with their leaders and so the gossip columns are ablaze with the latest trip of President Medvedev and his wife, Svetlana Medvedeva. Going to Italy certainly wasn’t her first trip, and fortunately Mrs Medvedeva is very popular with the average Russian citizen and so the idea of her traveling to Italy with the President has generally been met with a sense of admiration and wonder.
Russian first lady Svetlana Medvedeva appears to have ushered in a new tradition: traveling with President Medvedev on his foreign official visits and working at his side to represent Russia. Often hand in hand, they step off the presidential plane together and Mrs. Medvedeva can soon be found meeting with the wife of a foreign leader or visiting important cultural sites of interest to Russians back home.
During their recent official visit to Italy, Mrs. Medvedeva presented a floral bouquet to the Italian President. On an earlier official visit to France, Mrs. Medvedeva was the only first lady among the attendees, and later presented flowers to Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the first lady of France.
On the most recent trip together, President Medvedev and Mrs. Medvedeva watched the parade dedicated to the150 anniversary of the unification of Italy. The first lady also toured an exhibition of works by Lorenzo Lotto in Rome.