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Putin Presents Anti-Crisis Plan to Duma

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has laid out a $90 billion economic package to combat the worldwide financial crisis on the home front. Mr. Putin told the state Duma 2009 will be rough for Russia.

In his speech, broadcast live on state television, Prime Minister Putin became the latest international figure to tackle the financial crisis publicly, using a new law requiring an annual address from the prime minister to take on the subject.

Mr. Putin said that while the global crisis is here to stay for a while, the government plans to spend $43 billion to help a weakened banking system as well as on social programs. Areas of the economy that are viewed as strategic can also expect a boost from federal funds, including the aircraft manufacturing industry.

Describing a plan which includes increased pensions and provides more housing to Russians, Putin called on people to not lose hope and become demoralized.

"A surreal nightmare will begin if we disturb the balance between social justice and economic expediency," he said.

He said the threat of a banking crisis had receded, after the stock market had plummeted and external creditors stopped lending, bringing a halt to many projects.

While most of the Duma members are from the 54-year-old prime minister's party, United Russia, Gennady Zyuganov, head of the Communist Party, took the opportunity to criticize the plans.

"We say openly that if the government continues to apply its monetarist policies, it deserves to be dismissed," Zyuganov said.