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

Thousands of Ethiopian Israelis Rally Against Racism

PM Netanyahu says he will meet Damas Pakada, the Ethiopia-born Israeli soldier who was filmed being beaten by two policemen More

Ten Migrants Drown in Mediterranean, 4,800 Rescued

All of those rescued are being ferried to Italian ports, with some arriving on Italy's southernmost island, Lampedusa, and others taken to Sicily and Calabria More

HRW: Saudis Using US Cluster Bombs in Yemen

Human Rights Watch says photographs, video and other evidence have emerged indicating cluster munitions have been used in 'recent weeks' in airstrikes in Houthi stronghold in northern Yemen More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil Wari
X
Henry Ridgwell
May 03, 2015 1:12 AM
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video 'Woman in Gold' Uses Artwork as Symbol of Cultural Identity

Simon Curtis’ legal drama, "Woman in Gold," is based on the true story of an American Jewish refugee from Austria who fights to reclaim a famous Gustav Klimt painting stolen from her family by the Nazis during World War II. It's a haunting film that speaks to the hearts of millions who have sought to reclaim their past, stripped from them 70 years ago. VOA's Penelope Poulou reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Taviani Brothers' 'Wondrous Boccaccio' Offers Tales of Love, Humor

The Italian duo of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani have been making movies for half a century: "The Night of the Shooting Stars," "Padre Padrone," "Good Morning, Babylon." Now in their 80s, the brothers have turned to one of the treasures of Italian culture for their latest film. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver reports.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Challenges Await Aid Organizations on the Ground in Nepal

A major earthquake rocked Nepal on Saturday and killed thousands, injured thousands more and sent countless Nepalese outside to live in makeshift tent villages. The challenges to Nepal are enormous, with some reconstruction estimates at around $5 billion. Aid workers from around the world face challenges getting into Nepal, which likely makes for a difficult recovery. Arash Arabasadi has the story from Washington.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs