Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has defended his handling of the economic crisis there.
He told lawmakers in the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, that an aid package worth 67 billion euros would ensure the country survived a “very difficult 2009.” It was classic tough talk from the Russia leader: “The problems first appeared outside Russia and weren’t our fault, no-one argues with that, but their effects were global and Russia was harmed along with other countries. In that respect, I’d like to stress once again: any attempts to exclude Russia from the global decision-making process, especially regarding energy, and attempts to ignore Russia’s lawful interests, would be counterproductive.” Russia’s economy is heading into recession after a decade of rapid growth. More than one million people have lost their jobs since the start of December. Lower prices for oil, gas and metals exports and big corporate debts make Russia the worst affected so far of the world’s big four emerging markets. The slumping value of the rouble against the dollar and other currencies has provoked fears about the country’s political stability. Putin said the current rouble rate helps Russian companies. The Kremlin has been using its oil revenue derived foreign reserves to prevent the rouble’s undergoing what Putin called “uncontrollable devaluation.”