Putin demands Russia join top five world economies in next decade

Russia must become one of the world’s top five economies in the next 10 yearsto avoid interference in its affairs, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.

“Let’s be frank – in the modern world, there will always be someone who would want to come to advise where you must move, which policy to pursue and the way to choose for you own country if you are weak,” Putin told the State Duma, the lower house of parliament in his last speech in his present post.

“These are quite friendly, nonintrusive pieces of advice, but rough dictatorship and interference into affairs of an independent country hide behind them. One must be independent and strong… Russia must become one of the top five developed economies of the world by gross domestic product volume.”

GDP per capita must be $35,000, like it is now in France or Italy, he added.

“And I want to say that this is the current figure, which will be changing,” Putin said.

In 2000, when he was first elected president, Putin said Russia must at least reach the level of economic development of Portugal, Europe’s poorest state.

Russia faces parliamentary elections this December and a presidential poll next March. Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev look increasingly like campaign rivals at the polls as they promote themselves and make veiled criticisms of each other.

Putin said Russia will have to at least double labor productivity in the next decade, something that has lagged behind since the Soviet era.

The share of innovation products must be increased to 25-35 percent from the current 12 percent.

“I am sure that Russia must launch a new wave of industrial, technological development, to create conditions for the inflow of long-term, ‘smart’ investment. We simply have no other alternative if we want to provide competitiveness of and demand for our human resources,” he said.

Putin said that Russia must raise $60-70 billion in foreign investment each year soon compared to some $40 billion now.

He said that Russia would overcome the consequences of the international financial crisis ahead of plan and would fully compensate for the losses from it by 2012.

“In 2010, Russia’s GDP expanded 4 percent – the highest level in G8 states. This year’s forecast is about 4.2 percent,” he said.

Price growth will slow down to no more than 6.5 – 7.5 percent this year after 8.8 percent last year, he said.

MOSCOW, April 20 (RIA Novosti)

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