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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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 Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid