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Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday addressed members of the State Duma lower house of parliament with a report on the results of the first year of his Cabinet’s work. Medvedev answered a number of “inconvenient” questions of the parliamentarians. Medvedev’s self-criticism was higher than Vladimir Putin’s, according to the media.
The prime minister said what has been done for the country’s socio-economic development the Novye Izvestia newspaper writes. Medvedev said that the country’s GDP last year grew by 3.4 percent and the rate of growth of real wages in 2012 accelerated to 8.4 percent – from 2.8 percent in 2011. Also, the unemployment rate fell by 1 percent last year. However, the federal budget was fulfilled with a small deficit – 0.06 percent of GDP, and it is quite a good result, compared with, for example, the United States, Japan and Britain. However, Dmitry Medvedev warned about the serious risks of Russia’s economic growth slowdown. The prime minister reported on the achieved results and plans of the Cabinet of Ministers in various fields. Speaking on national defence, Medvedev said that it is necessary to put an end to the “price wars” between the state customers and the companies fulfilling the state defence order.
The slowdown trends are becoming more acute in the world economy, the Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper writes. They are also affecting Russia. But if last year the country managed to almost avoid their influence, this year the risks are very serious. This did not come as an unpleasant surprise to the Cabinet. “We had anticipated slowdown in the context of the situation on the world markets,” said Medvedev. Meanwhile, the outflow of capital from Russia continues. In 2012, it amounted to 54 billion US dollars. This is certainly less than a year earlier, but comparatively. “In other countries with comparable economies there is no outflow at all,” the RF government head stressed. “So, something works wrong in our country.”
The minimum level of alcohol content in the blood and expiratory alcohol level of drivers will be returned to the Russian legislation, the Kommersant daily writes. After a year and a half of fierce debates with the participation of government officials, MPs and narcologists, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that he had “no objection to fix the error” of breath alcohol meters with the “negligible permille volume.” However, the newspaper recalls, Medvedev himself three years ago cancelled this rule. According to the newspaper, the prime minister changed his point of view after the State Duma held a meeting with experts on the alcohol permille issue on the instruction of President Vladimir Putin.
The Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper notes that Dmitry Medvedev answered one more “uncomfortable” question about the country’s transition to winter time only, which caused a controversial reaction among Russians. “Many men, many minds,” he said. Some ask to return everything as it was before, and the other part requests not to return. “We cannot change our spots all the time,” said Medvedev, proposing to live in the “new” time. Which does not at all mean, he made a reservation, that the matter is closed once and for all.
Dmitry Medvedev kept the tradition established by Vladimir Putin, in which the report is a message about the current and future plans of the government, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper writes. Medvedev’s self-criticism Medvedev was higher than Putin’s. But it was displayed not for the lawmakers. Medvedev’s government really is subjected to pressure greater than Putin’s. But not from the parliament, which has not matured for opposing the executive branch, but from the presidential structures and Putin himself. Wednesday’s leak of his thinking – whether to dismiss the Cabinet – in this sense is not so much a sensation as the evidence of pressure on the government, which reluctantly fulfils the president’s election promises.
On the day of Medvedev’s speech in the Duma the media circulated reports about a leak from the closed part of the president’s meeting with members of the government, which was held in Kalmykia: the Lifenews online edition published a mobile phone video of Putin’s slashing criticism of the government for the poor fulfilment of his inaugural decrees of May 7, 2012, including the one which requires the government to organise the work to liquidate dilapidated houses, the newspaper writes, noting that the president’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, called the leak unethical.
President of the Foundation for Effective Politics Gleb Pavlovsky, quoted by the publication, is certain that Putin’s words “are addressed even not to the government, but to the prime minister, and it is clear that this move is timed to coincide with the report at the Duma.” The expert added that he does not believe in accidental leaks.
According to Director General of the Centre for Political Information Alexei Mukhin, quoted by the Kommersant daily, “the premier should have acted as an executive manager and talked about the economy, but he spoke as a politician.” And this is despite the fact that “Vladimir Putin has claims to the government members because they poorly fulfil his election campaign promises, formalised by the decrees of May 7 last year.”