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Medvedev's End-of-Year Assessment

  • RFE/RL

President Dmitry Medvedev calls U.S. Barack Obama "a leader who fulfills his promises."

President Dmitry Medvedev calls U.S. Barack Obama "a leader who fulfills his promises."

In an interview on with three Russian channels, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev hailed emerging from the economic crisis as one of his country's major achievements of 2010.

In his annual end-of-year, interview to Russia's major television channels, Medvedev said Russian economy reached "stable growth" after a period of "decline."

"[This year] we have experienced close to 4 percent growth in GDP." Medvedev said. "And furthermore, this growth isn't simply a 'gage' for us, but in that growth there are indications of the modernization of our economy, which indicates a modern way of life."

Medvedev said his government's new stance of child protection issues and Russia's "demographic development", and heat waves that plagued Russian regions in the summer, as well the 65th anniversary of the victory in World War II, were among the major events that defined the outgoing year for him.

Praise For Obama

The president also called the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with the U.S. the "cornerstone to the security for coming decades" and said he was pleased that Russia was "moving towards the ratification of this document."

Russia's parliament is expected to give initial approval to the pact on December 24. Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate approved the treaty after a month-long political battle.

The Russian President praised his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama, as a person who is "easy" to work with and "knows how to listen and hear."

"He is a person who, in principle, and this is probably the most important in politics, fulfills his promises, whether it's about the START treaty or the WTO, or the ratification of a document important to nuclear cooperation, or international questions," Medvedev continued.

Problems Plaguing Russia

The cross-channel interview covered a broad range of topics from police reforms, corruption, and drug addiction problems to the WikiLeaks scandal, the fate of the imprisoned former Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and Russia's controversial spy swap with the U.S.

The president said police reforms was fundamental to improving Russia's justice system. Medvedev stressed that the routing out of corruption and bribe-taking among police and officials would continue into next year.

According to the president, drug abuse has infiltrated schools across Russia, with some 160,000 school-age children addicted to drugs.

On Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Medvedev said the fate of the jailed former oligarch, who is awaiting the verdict in his second trial on embezzlement charges, should be determined by evidence, not "speculation."

"As president, I think the following: neither the president, not any other official employed by the state, has the right to express their position on this case or any other case before the verdict, guilty or not guilty," Medvedev answered.

Medvedev's comments come just days after Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin compared Khodorkovsky to jailed U.S. financier Bernard Madoff.

On WikiLeaks, Spies

The Russian President said the U.S. diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks "will have no influence" on Russia's relations with the United States. The cable portray Russia as a corrupt autocracy.

The interviewees asked the Russian president about the controversial spy-swap earlier this year, the first of its kind since the Cold War.

"Anyone during the Soviet Union or in the past said that there weren't spies in other countries -- it was a total lie," Medvedev said.

Medvedev stressed that all spies, legal and illegal, were "Russian citizens" and must be taken care of by the government.

"I recently met with them, there was anniversary party at the Foreign Intelligence Service, and I said, 'You know, we will do the same thing in the future, if some of our agents, legal or illegal, are in the same situation," Medvedev said, "because it's not a good thing, because these people defend our [national] interests.'"

The president was interviewed by the heads of Russia's major television channels --Konstantin Kulistikov of NTV, Konstantin Ernst of First Channel and Oleg Dobrodeev of Russian state TV and Radio.

written by Farangis Najibullah, RFE/RL correspondent Ashley Cleek contributed to this report.
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