News / Europe

Russian PM Medvedev Defends Record After Putin Warning

Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev gestures during an address to the Lower House of Parliament in Moscow, April 17, 2013.Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev gestures during an address to the Lower House of Parliament in Moscow, April 17, 2013.
x
Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev gestures during an address to the Lower House of Parliament in Moscow, April 17, 2013.
Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev gestures during an address to the Lower House of Parliament in Moscow, April 17, 2013.
Reuters
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev defended his government's record in a combative speech to parliament on Wednesday after President Vladimir Putin signaled he may be losing patience with his long-time ally.

There has been speculation for months in the media and among political analysts that Putin, now 60, could make Medvedev a scapegoat if Russia's economy continues to decline.

Medvedev hit back after unauthorized video footage showed Putin threatening to sack unnamed senior officials over a failure to implement his social spending plans - for which responsibility ultimately lies with Medvedev's government.

Putin had just told the cameras to stop rolling at a meeting with regional officials and government ministers, and his angry, unguarded remarks revived months of speculation that he has lost confidence in Medvedev.

Medvedev, 47, who has been prime minister since last May, asked for parliament's support in a long-planned report on his government's work that lasted an hour and 45 minutes.

"We live in a dynamic, fast-developing world. It is so global and so complex that we sometimes cannot keep up with the changes," he said, acknowledging that Russia could be dragged into recession if global commodity prices keep falling.

"On the other hand, we live in a society that offers huge opportunities. So I hope that... Russia tomorrow will be a country that is strong and comfortable to live in," said Medvedev.

In a rallying cry to parliament, he called for unity and respect for his government's work.

Deepening his problems, though, Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov criticized Medvedev's performance and said he should "draw the conclusions." The Just Russia party threatened to call a no-confidence vote if Russia sinks into recession.

Medvedev would have every chance of surviving such a vote, because the State Duma, the lower house, is dominated by his and Putin's United Russia's party. Retaining Putin's support is vital, however, for his political future.

Medvedev said he had plans for improving the economy, which is heavily reliant on exports of oil and gas. He gave few details, only reiterating his refusal to raise the pension age and saying he would not sell off state assets cheaply.

He said Russia risked sliding into recession because of falling commodity prices, and that the government would consider other stimulus measures to push growth closer to the target rate of 5 percent this year if an economic slowdown continued.

Last year the economy grew 3.4 percent, and last week the government cut its growth target for 2013 to 2.4 percent.

Long-term partners

Putin and Medvedev have been allies since working together in the St. Petersburg city administration in the 1990s, and swapped jobs last May after Putin won a third term as president after four years as prime minister.

In the footage - published online shortly before Medvedev started his speech to parliament, and later shown by state TV - a stern-looking Putin called for more action to fulfill pledges he has made on social spending to improve the lives of millions of Russians.

Putin had made the promises as he tried to win back support after the biggest protests of his long rule.

"If we don't do it, we will need to acknowledge that either I work inefficiently or you work badly and you will need to resign," he told Tuesday's meeting in the footage published by the Lifenews.ru website, which has close ties with the Kremlin.

"I would like to draw your attention to the fact that I am currently inclined towards the second scenario."

Putin's press secretary denied the president was referring to sacking the government but the remarks were widely seen as a warning. The Kremlin's anger over the footage - Lifenews said it had been barred from the presidential pool - also underlined the sensitivity of Putin's comments.

A professionally produced video by an anonymous filmmaker, posted on YouTube earlier this year, used archive footage and apparently recent interviews to present Medvedev as weak and ready to surrender Russian interests to a conniving United States. The word "treason" is uttered by a narrator.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin is among the list of potential replacements for Medvedev, but Putin has a record of loyalty to his long-standing allies and many political observers say he would remove Medvedev only reluctantly. A significant change of policy would be unlikely as this is dictated by Putin.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More