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Drunk on Power

kaput.jpgThe Wall Street Journal points out Putinka vodka sells much more than Medvedeff vodka.

Putinka vodka piggybacked on the cult-like popularity of Vladimir Putin to become one of Russia’s top-selling brands of spirits. For a new vodka named after Mr. Putin’s presidential successor, Putinka is proving to be as tough an act to follow as Mr. Putin himself.

Medvedeff vodka, named after President Dmitry Medvedev, appeared in shops here in December, next to bottles of Putinka vodka and for the same price — 150 rubles, or roughly $4, per half liter. But, while Putinka, which hit the market in 2003, remains Russia’s second-best-selling vodka, Medvedeff has yet to find a place among the top 20.

The disparity reflects Russia’s political reality. (…)

Stanislav Kaufman, the man who dreamt up Putinka, says he can’t take Medvedeff seriously. “Mr. Medvedev is not a vodka personality,” he says. “Mr. Putin is.”

Mr. Kaufman says Mr. Putin’s background as a spy is a good match for a drink that is at least 40% alcohol. Mr. Medvedev, a former corporate lawyer who has touted himself as a liberal modernizer, just doesn’t have the right image, he adds. Brand gurus say the Medvedeff brand is also slightly confusing because it evokes images of bears — medvedi in Russian — as well as the president.