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Medvedev Welcomes Criticism Over Crisis

Published: March 17, 2009 (Issue # 1457)



  • Honor guards open doors as President Dmitry Medvedev enters a hall for a meeting with regional lawmakers in the Kremlin on Friday in which the crisis was discussed.
    Photo: Alexander Natruskin / Reuters

MOSCOW President Dmitry Medvedev urged regional lawmakers to debate the governments anti-crisis policies and said he would welcome criticism.

In a notable departure from Vladimir Putins 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 states 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 Russias 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 Putins 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.

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Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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