Medvedev slams slow response to crisis, hinting Putin

Russian President said officials were working too slowly to ease the economic crisis in what appeared to be his second complaint about PM's role.

Medvedev slams slow response to crisis, hinting Putin

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday officials were working too slowly to ease the economic crisis in what appeared to be his second complaint about Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's role.

Kremlin watchers have been looking for any signs the dual system, whereby Medvedev shares power with Putin, could be coming under strain as Russia's leaders try to stem the worst economic crisis in a decade.

Medvedev, at a meeting in the eastern Siberian city of Irkutsk, launched into a point-by-point critique of government anti-crisis policies, though he did not mention Putin by name.

"Rules for allocating state guarantees were sanctioned only a few days ago. We are working very slowly, unacceptably slowly for a crisis," Medvedev said, referring to the idea of allocating state guarantees for private loans to enterprises.

Medvedev appeared to rap Putin last month over the response to the crisis, an unprecedented move in a country where criticism of the former Kremlin chief had become taboo.

Russia's $1.7 trillion economy is set to contract this year for the first time in a decade and unemployment is soaring.

"The crisis is continuing and the climax has still not been reached," Medvedev said. "We have not hit rock bottom yet."

The swift turnaround of Russia's economic fortunes, after a decade of spectacular growth boosted living standards for many sections of society, has raised concerns about stability in the world's biggest producer of natural resources.

Crisis climax

Economy Minister Elvira Nabiullina said at the Medvedev meeting the "difficult" conditions in the Russian economy would continue for several quarters.

Medvedev, who some analysts say is trying to accumulate more power in relation to Putin, also criticised the implementation of capital raising measures for state banks such as Sberbank and VTB.

"The efficiency of implementing these measures, to put it mildly, leaves much to be desired," he told officials, adding credit was far too expensive for most companies.

"For the majority of enterprises credit is out of reach, interest rates for some reason are 20 percent and higher ... you can only dream about long money."

Medvedev said the Russian economy should be changed to diversify the drivers of growth away from raw materials. He added the government should also listen more to local governors.

"Several governors have whispered in my ear -- 'we speak to the government ... but it doesn't listen to us sometimes,'" Medvedev said.

"The crisis is the very best time to get rid of ineffective managers and that goes for state employees too."

Reuters

Last Mod: 20 Şubat 2009, 15:43
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