How Vova and Dima Spent Their Summer Vacation

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Growing apart: Last summer, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin were rarely seen apart. The Kremlin released a steady stream of photos showing the two leaders frolicking together in Sochi and other resorts, reminding the public of their "friendly" partnership. But this summer, the story is different. Medvedev has largely stayed in Sochi, while Putin has traveled alone throughout Russia visiting disaster sites, riding motorcycles, and tranquilizing endangered species, like the whale he's shooting with a crossbow in the above photo.

DMITRY ASTAKHOV/AFP/Getty Images

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On the ground: When wildfires spread throughout central Russia this summer, consuming thousands of acres of forest and farmland, Putin rushed to the disaster scene. Here, he discusses the situation with Medvedev from the town of Nizhny Novgorod on July 30.

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Back at the ranch: Meanwhile Medvedev, back in the office, surveyed the predicament from afar.

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Forest ranger: Putin inspects the damage to a forest near Voronezh on August 4.

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Flower child: Medvedev discusses the damage to Russia's agricultural sector in the town of Taganrog on the Sea of Azov* on Aug. 12. Fearing an impending domestic food shortage, Moscow banned wheat exports, arousing global concern.

*The originally posted version of this article incorrectly described Taganrog as a town on the Black Sea.

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Top gun: Putin sits in the cabin of a Be-200 firefighting aircraft on Aug. 10. The prime minister joined the water-bombing effort aimed at preventing fires from engulfing nearby nuclear sites.

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Meeting the neighbors: On Aug. 8, with the fires still raging, Medvedev visited the breakaway region of Abkhazia to commemorate the anniversary of Russia's 2008 war with Georgia. Above, Medvedev shakes hands with Abkhazian President Sergei Bagapsh.

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Easy Rider: Putin rides a Harley Davidson three-wheeler during a visit to a Ukrainian biker camp in Ukraine's Crimea region on July 24.

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Very easy rider: Meanwhile Medvedev drives an electric buggy to a meeting at the presidential residence in Sochi on Aug. 11.

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Bearing gifts: Putin brings flowers to a new mother at a prenatal center outside Moscow on Aug. 17.

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Matinee idol: Medvedev stands next to Russian filmlegend Rimma Markova after decorating her with the Order of Merit for the Fatherland on July 26.

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Grizzly man: Putin stares down a bear during a visit to Kuril Lake in Eastern Russia. When a journalist asked if it was safe to be so close to a bear, Putin reportedly replied that bears should be afraid of people, not the other way around.

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Paper tiger: Medvedev sits at a desk in the restored Tsarist-era Aleksandrovsky Palace near St. Petersburg on July 20.

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Feeling their pain: Putin comforts those affected by the fires in Nizhny Novgorod July 30. 

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Farm life: Medvedev meets with local farmers wearing traditional clothing near Sochi Aug. 9.

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Watching all the angles: Putin dons 3-D glasses during a visit to Gazprom's Scientific and Research Institute on Aug. 3.

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Boy scout? Medvedev sports a scarf given to him by children evacuated from the fires on Aug. 12. With presidential elections approaching in 2012 -- and Putin eligible to retake his old office -- both men have been coy about whether or not they will run. While both have taken a hit in the polls since the fires, Putin remains far more popular. Judging by the optics of the summer's PR shots, he may be done sharing the spotlight.

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