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10 Sep, 2010 10:36

Russian democracy growing steadily – Medvedev

Russia is on the right track towards democratization, President Dmitry Medvedev told a conference of foreign and Russian experts held at the Global Policy Forum in Yaroslavl.

Opening Day Two’s plenary session Dmitry Medvedev addressed Russian and foreign delegates and talked about political institutions and modernization.

Speaking on the subject of Russia’s political system, Medvedev appeared confident and optimistic.

I don’t have the feeling that we live in a ‘stale’ atmosphere, that we are stagnating, that we have a police regime,” Medvedev said. “I think we have gained a steady pace of social development.

Responding to outside criticism of Russia’s current political system, Medvedev said “a parliamentary democracy would be a disaster for us.”

We have been told [to adopt] a parliamentary democracy. But for Russia, I’m afraid, a parliamentary democracy would be a disaster,” the president said.

Explaining Medvedev’s remarks regarding a parliamentary democracy, political journalist Sergey Brilev said, “Russia requires a very strong executive, given the size, given its history…and the diversity of different ethnicities living in the country. So a strong executive is a must. It is a requirement for the Russian political system. I can’t really see how it can be achieved through parliamentary channels.”

Also in his speech, Medvedev mentioned that it has been exactly a year since he wrote his famous "Go, Russia!” article, which outlined the need to modernize the Russian economy.

Since then, we have made some achievements, but certainly we are not satisfied with the current state of affairs,” Medvedev said. “But I don’t think there is any alternative to modernizing the economy and the political system.”

According to Medvedev, diversifying Russia’s economy and steering away from resource dependence is crucial to the country’s development.

We absolutely must reform the economic system, otherwise we have no future,” he said.

Democracy was also the main topic of Dmitry Medvedev's keynote speech at the forum.

Professor of political science from Yale University Ian Shapiro, who asked Medvedev about Russia’s role in promoting democracy in countries like North Korea, Burma, Iran and Africa, said the president gave a “heartening” answer.

“He said that the best way Russia can help promote democracy in the world is by being a successful democracy itself and being an example of a country that has managed to democratize relatively quickly in the past 20 years or so.”