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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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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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