RIGA - Russian citizens living in Latvia came to the polls in near-record numbers to extend overwhelming support to Dmitry Medvedev, while observers noted that Medvedev's decisive win would not alter bilateral relations.
Medvedev, President Vladimir Putin's chosen successor, drew tremendous support from throughout Russia and the former Soviet states, gathering 70.3 percent of votes cast, the Central Election Commission announced March 4.
In Latvia, however, Medvedev won 85.3 percent of the vote.
A total of 14,070 Russian citizens residing in Latvia voted in the election, amounting to about 70.35 percent of eligible voters in the country.
Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov came in second with 11.41 percent of votes cast in Latvia.
Foreign Ministry officials said that relations between the two countries were unlikely to change after the changing of the guard at the Kremlin.
"There are no signs that Russia's policy towards Latvia will change, but it is too early to speak about it," Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins said in a March 3 interview.
Riekstins said that while the result was to be expected, there could still be some surprises in foreign policy. Though it is widely rumored that Putin will take the prime minister's position, Riekstins noted that it is ultimately up to the president to decide on foreign policy issues.
"Many people are trying to speculate that the prime minister's post might be taken byâ€¦Vladimir Putin and how they both [Putin and Medvedev] will get along," he said.
"But in any case, according to the Russian Constitution, foreign policy is set by the president. We will see what his team is going to be 's and what changes there will be in the Russian government 's after hearing the results of the elections," Riekstins said.
In an ominous precedent, Russia's Gazprom, where Medvedev is chairman, reduced natural gas supplies to Ukraine the day after the election, renewing the energy standoff between Moscow and its near neighbors.
The minister also said Medvedev would be more likely to focus on economic issues than his predecessor, but that that fact alone was unlikely to result in any serious policy changes.
Medvedev was born in September 1965 in St. Petersburg. He earned his PhD in private law from Leningrad State University. Medvedev helped run Putin's presidential campaign in 2000 and later became the president's chief of staff.
Medvedev never held an elected office before this year.