Medvedev Says Russia Must Modernize Economy, Curb Reliance On Oil Prices

President Dmitry Medvedev has told an economic forum in St. Petersburg that Russia must reduce its reliance on high oil prices.

Medvedev said Russia cannot “count all the time on high oil prices or on their constant growth.”

Presenting a program of reforms for the country, Medvedev said Russia must press on with modernization of its economy in the next few years, regardless of who is in charge.

He warned that the large and growing role of the government in the economy — along with corruption, hostility to investors, and the centralization of power in the Kremlin — threaten the country’s development.

“In today’s world it is impossible to run a country from one perspective, particularly a country like Russia,” Medvedev said. “Furthermore,  if everything begins functioning or moving only following a signal  from the Kremlin — and we have been through that, I have experienced that myself — it means the system is not viable and it is dependent upon a particular person. This is bad. This means that this system should be changed.”

Chinese President Hu Jintao, who is the guest of honor, also addressed the forum.

Meanwhile, a senior Gazprom official, Aleksandr Medvedev, said Russia and China will not be signing a major gas supply deal on the sidelines of the forum.

Negotiations on the 30-year gas supply deal that could be worth up to $1 trillion have been going on for five years.

compiled from agency reports

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