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18 Nov, 2008 18:56

Russia to put military bases in South Ossetia and Abkhazia

Russia will place bases in the newly independent states of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and build relations with the two countries, Russian president Medvedev announced at a meeting with the media in the city of Izhevsk.

Military Bases

“We're coming from a point where these two countries are friendly, and we should admit, are very dependent on us,” said the president. “We will proceed from here, starting with the establishment of diplomatic relations and finishing with the guarantee of their safety and the placement of military bases.”

Medvedev also discussed the possibility of helping businesses in the region.

He made it clear that they will not pressure anybody to recognise the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and said that any country’s decision to do so is welcomed, but won't change anything.

“We're not going to beg anyone. Those who take such a decision will help, but it will not affect their international status,” he said. “It's a question of time.”

U.S.-Russia relations

“On one hand, we're not starting with a clean sheet. We have a foundation of relations with the U.S., we're partners and often differ in our views. Nevertheless, we are obliged to collaborate,” said Medvedev.

The Russian head of state then offered his hope for the incoming U.S. administration.

“There is a possibility to build these relations in the future. I hope that the new administration will look at many things from a different angle, with open eyes and pragmatically without any blinkers,” he said.

Parliamentary republic “death” of Russia

A parliamentary republic would be bad news for Russia, according to President Medvedev. He said that the constitutional amendments he announced earlier this month would not turn the country into a constitutional republic and could strengthen the authority of the state Duma.

He believes the Duma will have more leverage in its control over decisions taken by the government.

“I'll say openly, I think Russia should not be a parliamentary republic, for us that is simply death,” Medvedev said. “In spite of the presidential character of a republic, there is a government that acts as the executive power and the government should periodically report not only to itself but also the Federal Council and the Duma about the execution of instructions we gave and present a report on its progress for the year.”

Medvedev sees nothing wrong with the correction of provisions concerning the political system of Russia as long as the rights of citizens remain unchanged.

“The legal routine of citizens must be stable in the constitution,” he said. "The protection of rights and freedom, the fundamental bases of order, the right to property and the court, these things shouldn't undergo corrections.

“The structuring of the political system, however important, carries a secondary characteristic. It is through these considerations that I was guided when I formulated my propositions and I am happy that the State Duma has supported me in this.”

Selection of regional governors “optimal”

Medvedev says that the present system of selecting governors is “optimal” and its change is both “unrealistic” and “inadmissable”.

“If the system doesn't suit any of the governors, they should understand that they are not private people and they can send in their resignation,” said the president.

However, when asked about the possibility of the same system being applied to the selection of mayors, Medvedev said that was impossible according to the present constitution.

“And until it is changed, we understand that municipal power is formed through different reasons. And in this sense we cannot be in command of municipalities and we cannot directly establish municipal bodies or leaders,” he said.

Presidential pass-times

The Russian leader said that the small amount of spare time he has is either spent doing sport or being with his family.

“Recently I have had very little free time. That is the truth. In my spare time I try to get back into shape and I am usually in the gym or in the pool,” he said. “And second, of course, is family. You have to spend time with your own, without it life has no value.”

He also managed to talk about the school progress of his son: “He's learning fine. I can't say that he is a totally honours student, I myself wasn't an honours student in school.”

Medvedev declined to discuss what his son wanted to do when he grew up, saying that it was up to him.

“As I understand, he still hasn't decided, although different ideas have come to him,” he said. “I don't want to disturb that, because as soon I say something about it, many people will find out about it and it will make it more difficult for him – let him figure it out on his own.”