Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has used his annual State of the Nation address to demand urgent reforms. Addressing both houses of parliament and the country live on television, he called for a comprehensive, systematic and targeted attack on corruption and inefficiency, and said the economy needs rapid modernisation.
“We still can’t shake off the primitive structure of our economy, the humiliating dependency on energy exports,” the president said. “Our production does not take into account the real needs of people. The habit of living off exports is slowing down development, while the international competitiveness of our products is shamefully low.” In a wide-ranging speech, Medvedev said Russia needs a well-educated and free workforce to replace the current archaic society where central government makes all the decisions. He said inefficient companies could no longer rely on state handouts to survive. And he proposed reducing Russia’s eleven time zones, which make running the vast country almost impossible.