Russian leaders review economic progress for 2008 and look to future

The Russian President and Prime Minister gave a positive summary for Russia's economic development in 2008, and gave assurances their crisis management efforts will continue.

Long term goals. The Prime Minister and President repeated their devotion to diversifying Russian economy and placing it on an innovative track. Strong growth in the first half of 2008 laid the basis for yearly economic growth of 6% despite an unfortunate 4th quarter contraction

However the coming year will bring new challenges according to Prime Minister Putin.

“Our goal is to get through 2009 with minimal losses. We are committed to our goals. We’ll have to consider the ineffective efforts, of which there were many during the period of high oil prices. But now we have to be more effective and efficient.”

Russia has seen a crash in prices of the country’s main exports – oil and metals. However gold and currency reserves accumulated during the boom period are now cushioning Russia from the full effect of the crisis.

President Medvedev, addressing the government stressed that that the anticrisis programme is balanced but not ideal. Vladimir Osakovsky, Chief Economist at Unicredit Aton believes the threat now is that the temptation of protectionism could override the governments longer term aims.

“A major problem here, I guess, would be not to be tempted with protectionism. Any form of Government protectionism will be a step away from this goal actually, from the diversification of the economy, and away from a more diverse and more innovative path of development.”

The Head of the Government has also stressed the social responsibility of the State, indicating increased wages, and fighting unemployment that will help support both the people and the business world.