First, the bad news:
President Obama mispronounced Russian President Medvedev's name (listen to You-tube) when he first arrived in Russia.
It should be Medvedyev (e.g., the "d" before one way of pronouncing the word "due" [dyoo]), not Medvedev (e.g., the "d" in "down" [doun]), as the president said.
Here's the rule, from my college Essentials of Russian -- fourth edition by A.V. Gronicka and H. Bates-Yakobson (1964), p. 14.
"Consonants, when followed by a soft vowel ... become 'palatalized' or 'softened'; that is, they are produced by flattening the mouth resonator (pressing the tongue up against the roof or palate of the mouth) and are subsequently marked by a raised timbre."
I hope I'm not being a pedant here. But ours is a president who is a stickler for pronouncing persons' names correctly, as a recent article points out.
Public diplomacy is in the details, including getting foreign names right (forget the abstractions of high-falutin' "strategic communications" theory about how to influence people).
And now the good news.
In his speech at the New Economic School (July 7, his last day in Russia) Barack Hussein Obama pronounced the last name of
Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev [ˈdmʲitrʲɪj ɐnɐˈtolʲjɪvʲɪtɕ mʲɪˈdvʲedʲɪf] correctly.
I guess we have the American Embassy in Moscow and the State Department to thank for this pronunciation "reset."
Spasibo, tovarishchi! Long live the eternal friendship between the United States and Russia!