Medvedev Welcomes Criticism Over Crisis
Published: March 17, 2009 (Issue # 1457)
MOSCOW — President Dmitry Medvedev urged regional lawmakers to debate the government’s anti-crisis policies and said he would welcome criticism.
In a notable departure from Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin, which rarely tolerated criticism, Medvedev said open discussion of anti-crisis measures among the lawmakers was “permissible and even necessary,” as was criticism of the state’s efforts to rescue the economy.
“It would not be surprising if there was criticism about the course that has been taken,” although “arguments in its favor” should be presented as well, he said at a Kremlin meeting with the lawmakers.
Medvedev, however, also contrasted Russia’s handling of the crisis with that of neighboring countries and took a clear swipe at one of them, presumably Ukraine, where he said political infighting had brought the economy to the edge of collapse.
“We do not have political problems, which is good, because a country that goes through a crisis with political difficulties has a high risk of experiencing a default,” he said. “Look at what our neighbors are doing. There is a permanent state of political tension and internal clan war over there, and it complicates an already difficult situation.”
Recently, some political pundits have started calling for Medvedev to depart from what they describe as the tacit pact between the government and society reached by Putin, in which society agreed on limitation of civil liberties in exchange for economical well being. The economic crisis demands that the accord be revised, say the pundits, including Igor Yurgens and Yevgeny Gontmakher of the Institute of Modern Development, a think tank that advises Medvedev on domestic policies.
In another departure from Putin’s principle of concentrating decision-making power in the Kremlin, Medvedev called on Friday to change the relationship between the regions and the central government, with regional lawmakers taking more responsibility for making decisions.
“This is a new time,” he said. “The responsibility of all levels of government has grown significantly.”
The regions should share their experiences in fighting the crisis with the state and among themselves, he said.
“A council of lawmakers could aid the exchange of information between regions,” he said. “It is also necessary to build a system of vertical communication with the federal center.” Pages: