Crowd scatters as Medvedev's jeep lurches

29th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Scenes of a jeep being driven by President Dmitry Medvedev nearly ploughing into a crowd went viral in Russia on Wednesday, sparking political debates among giggling Internet users.

The video of last week's incident -- which concluded with the 45-year-old walking out of the car sporting dark sunglasses -- came just two months after another web clip showed him somewhat unsuccessfully trying to dance at a party.

And like most things in Russia these days, it was read most closely for signs of what this said about Medvedev's chances of keeping his post in March elections that may be challenged by his senior partner Vladimir Putin.

"Who is this guy to hold the reins of a country if he cannot even drive a car," said one typical YouTube message from a user named BalticStatesAcademy.

"It seems that the president simply forgot to put the car into 'park'," the Kazan-Times newspaper that first reported the incident sniped.

The black vehicle had come to a stop when it suddenly lurched in the direction of hundreds of onlookers as the president tried to get out.

A member of his security team managed to help Medvedev stop the vehicle after opening the driver's door through an open window.

"Careful!" someone could be heard shouting as women screamed and hundreds of people backpedalled in the face of the president's quickly advancing car.

Medvedev could later be seen getting out of the vehicle and stiffly waving to the crowd before being led away by security.

The powerful Putin -- a man famous for being a judo black belt who was once photographed stripped to his waist while on a fishing trip -- himself has not been immune from gaffes making the rounds of amused Russian Internet users.

Last month, even state television ended up showing footage of the former KGB chief repeatedly failing to start the engine of Russia's latest Lada car model, which had just rolled off the production line.

Most recent appearances by either Putin or Medvedev have been read for signs on whether either has taken the decision to be the person to represent the ruling regime at presidential elections next year.

Both men have vowed not to run against each other and are promising to take the final decision in private between themselves.

The video can be seen on YouTube at

© 2011 AFP

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