After protests, Putin offers Russia 'new economy'

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin promised today to build a “new economy” in Russia as he admitted its prosperity was still held back by a litany of ills despite his 12-year domination of the country.

In a bid to show he remains Russia’s best hope for economic stability after a wave of protests, Putin admitted the country faced “systemic” corruption, an “unsatisfactory” business climate and an “inadmissible” dependence on energy exports.

Putin’s pledges came in an article for business daily Vedomosti, the latest in a series of wordy tracts setting out his vision for Russia ahead of the March 4 presidential poll where he plans to win a third Kremlin term.

“To have an economy that neither guarantees us stability, sovereignty or well-being is inadmissible for Russia,” said Putin.

“We need a new economy with competitive industry and infrastructure, with a developed services sector, with effective agriculture,” Putin added.

He appeared to acknowledge the failure of the much-heralded modernisation programme of his protege President Dmitry Medvedev, who Putin plans to succeed as Kremlin chief after his four-year stint as prime minister.

“On the initiative of President Medvedev in the last years we embarked on a number of reforms aimed at improving the business climate. There has been no noticeable breakthrough so far,” he said.

Putin painted a stark picture of the corruption that has sprouted in Russia in the last years and left it a lowly 143 on the latest anti-corruption index published by watchdog Transparency International.

“The costs (of bribes) for a business vary — you pay more or less depending on how well disposed certain people within the state mechanism are towards you,” said Putin.

Vedomosti, one of Russia’s few newspapers to have been consistently critical of Putin, printed his article in full but lambasted him in an accompanying commentary for failing to make clear how the reforms will be implemented.

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