His midget shoes.
At just under 5’4″, Medvedev is the world’s shortest president. Posing next to the suit-busting Arnold Schwarzenegger, he could look like a frail lilliputian rather than a modernizing force on par with Peter the Great (who was, quite tall, by the way).
But if you look at photographs from the meetings, Medvedev looks like he’s about as tall as Arnie, who is a full 9 inches taller.
How did Dima do it?
Well, first of all, Dima got heels. According to Russian press reports, the Presidential closet is filled with shoes that have about a 2.5-inch heel.(About an inch is standard on men’s shoes.) That does not exclude the potential for another, hidden heel, though it’s unclear what that would look like.
Then, there are the photographic tricks, according to a former Kremlin photographer. According to him, Medvedev prefers shorter photographers because they have to shoot from a lower position, thereby elongating his stature. He tries to stand close to the other guy, because that also hides the difference in height, as does photography with a telephoto (or long-focus) lens.
Because image is everything.