Treasure Hunt: A Sure Bet

MTEven before his election, Dmitry Medvedev popped up in souvenir items.
Nesting dolls have gone from enshrining Russia's political leaders to predicting them.

"I ordered the Dmitry Medvedev matryoshka in December," said a souvenir vendor on the Arbat.

"We still have Putin [500 rubles]," he said, pointing to one of the large lacquered, egg-shaped dolls. "But now we also have Medvedev [also 500 rubles], then inside is Putin, then Yeltsin or Gorbachev, then Stalin, then Lenin," said the vendor, who refused to give his name.

The Arbat vendor said that so far, only Russians are buying the Medvedev doll, in its black suit and cornflower blue tie painted against a Russian flag.

"Foreigners don't recognize him yet. He's like Zyuganov or Zhirinovsky," he said. "After March 2, foreigners will start buying him though," the vendor predicted confidently.

While nesting dolls are making predictions on the Arbat, Medvedev has still not made an appearance on the shelf of Putin portraits at the Moskva bookstore on Tverskaya Ulitsa. There, Putin dominates all categories, from the businesslike decision maker on the phone [1,842 rubles] to the thoughtful leader [1,846 to 4,870 rubles] to the steely-eyed sea wolf in a black karakul sailor cap [1,846 rubles].

One sales assistant laughed, but refused to give her name, when asked whether the bookstore were selling Medvedev portraits yet.

"Not yet," she said. "I don't think they'll take Putin away immediately," she added.

But even before Medvedev was elected, he sat front and center next to Putin, a business bet the vendor seemed willing to make.