Medvedev outlines new ‘big government’ agenda

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev set out his agenda for Russia’s future on Wednesday at a meeting with members of a public committee he hopes will estabish a broad dialogue between government and society.

More than 80 people, including politicians, artists, journalists and civil society activists, attended the meeting on Wednesday at Medvedev’s Gorki residence near Moscow.

The committee was set up as part of a future “big government” project put forward by the president at a meeting with representatives of the ruling United Russia party, experts and public figures last week.

The project, the latest in a series of Medvedev’s modernization initiatives, is designed to boost cooperation between government ministers and members of regional and municipal administrations and representatives of civil society, experts and businessmen.

Medvedev, who will lead United Russia in December parliamentary elections, is likely to head Russia’s next government after the 2012 presidential polls, in which current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will run and probably win. Medvedev and Putin announced their plans to swap jobs next year during a United Russia congress in late September.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Medvedev outlined the agenda the “big government” is to address.

The first priority, he said, is “a new, modern economy based on intellectual advantages, not on our commodity opportunities.”

The second is the strengthening of democracy in Russia and the creation of “modern” democratic institutions that “exist not only on paper,” the president said, adding: “I am far from believing, however, that our democratic institutions exist only on paper – otherwise I would not stay in power; I would join some other political movement.”

“Effective” social policies that reflect the needs of “almost all social groups” is the third most important priority for Russia, Medvedev said.

“Big government” must also work out a concept of “deep” reforms in Russia’s administrative and state governing systems.

The public committee should become the government’s “permanent advisory body,” he said, adding that committee members might join his future Cabinet.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Medvedev said he was planning to discuss the creation of effective communication mechanisms within a future “big government” with public committee members.

Presidential aide Arkady Dvorkovich, ombudsman for children’s rights Pavel Astakhov, Skolkovo Foundation president Viktor Vekselberg, Russia’s envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin, as well as regional leaders, lawmakers, journalists, artists and representatives of public organizations took part in Wednesday’s meeting.


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