Russian leader wraps up outgoing 2009

10:12, December 25, 2009      

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev summarized the outgoing 2009 as "difficult" in his second live broadcast program on state television Thursday.

It was Medvedev's ninth interview with Russian TV channels this year, which ran about 80 minutes. During the interview, the president focused primarily on his domestic and foreign policies, the economy and welfare.

The president said it was vitally important to tell the truth about current difficulties facing Russia and the world.

GLOBAL RECESSION

Although it was an extremely difficult year while many dramatic events had occurred, Russia has managed to survive the global economic crisis, said Medvedev, adding that Russia has paid "a relatively low price" for the international financial and economic crisis.

He sounded optimistic over prospects of the Russian economy in the coming year.

"We hope our economy will resume growth next year. The extent is so far hard to predict, but analysts expect it to be 2.5-5 percent, in an optimistic scenario," he said.

Russia had no future if it couldn't achieve modernization, in spite of its abundant mineral reserves, said Medvedev.

"Unless we take measures to switch to a modern high-tech economy, we will never be able to cope with outdated technology or drastically change our economy, and then we will depend more on the cyclicality of the global economy," said the president.

RUSSIA-U.S. RELATIONS

Despite the fact that Moscow and Washington have "agreed upon virtually everything" on a replacement treaty for the Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty (START-1), Russia will continue developing strategic offensive weapons after the new treaty was signed, said Medvedev. "Without them we cannot defend our country."

"We will continue developing new systems, including delivery vehicles. That is normal; the rest of the world is doing it," he said.

Medvedev and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama view the treaty as a breakthrough for bilateral ties in a year which saw a "reset" of Russia-U.S. relations.

During the interview, Medvedev revealed his impression of Obamaas a "strong politician, nice to deal with."

"We have been working together all right, have developed genuine relations. I hope we will keep it this way in the future," said Medvedev.

MILITARY REFORM

Speaking of national defense, Medvedev reiterated Russia's plans to re-equip its armed forces with modern weaponry in the next 10 years.

"In the next decade, we have to fully re-equip the entire military. It's a very difficult and capital-intensive task," said the president.

"The military hardware is becoming obsolete, the servicemen must be paid in accordance with their work and their service, and the organizational system in the armed forces should be different," he said.

Russia needs a strong army, so it has not curtailed the funding of major types of weapons despite the impact of the financial crisis, he said.

Shortly after a brief war with Georgia in August 2008, Russia unveiled military reform plans aimed at modernizing its armed forces, improving their efficiency and raising the living standards of servicemen and women.

NORTH CAUCASUS UNREST

Concerning the turbulent situation in the North Caucasus region, Medvedev said he would soon appoint an official who would be responsible for the situation in the region, said the president.

Progress has been made in fighting terrorism in North Caucasus, he said, yet "poor living standards still remain a problem," with a high unemployment level there.

Meanwhile the Russian leader said he was to sign a law Thursday overhauling the Interior Ministry, which he said needs drastic changes.

Source: Xinhua
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