Medvedev Urges Russians To Hang Tough Despite Woe

1017721In a nine-minute address he admitted that the global economic crisis had derailed many of his plans.

President Dmitry Medvedev urged Russian on Saturday to keep “moving forward” in spite of economic hardship in a speech that marked his first full year in office.

In a nine-minute address posted as a video blog on the Kremlin Web site, he admitted that the global economic crisis had derailed many of his plans.

Russians have watched wages plummet, unemployment swell and the rouble lose a third of its value against the dollar during the first 12 months of Medvedev’s presidency.

“Of course this crisis has very significantly changed our plans, but I want to really emphasise that we must continue moving forward in spite of all these hardships,” Medvedev said.

In the video, filmed in a snow-covered yard of pine and birch trees, Medvedev also promised to fight corruption, build more housing, and make airline tickets more affordable.

But many of the viewer replies, which are filtered by a moderator, were negative, with several respondents taking Medvedev to task for his handling of the crisis.

“We are being asked to put up with it, but how much can we stand?” wrote Lyovov Stryakhileva from the Chelyabinsk region. “While some predicted and prepared for the crisis, most people have been left in shock.”

Handpicked to succeed former president and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Medvedev won the presidential elections by a wide margin in March 2008, and with Putin still enjoys broad popular support.

But the source of much of that support — almost a decade of rapid economic growth under Putin, along with rising wages and improving living standards — has been threatened by the downturn, raising concerns among Kremlin watchers of a possible political crisis.

Even the positive replies to Medvedev’s blog were not unequivocal. Svetlana, a schoolteacher from the Voronezh region, thanked Medvedev for ensuring government employees received their wages on time, even though these wages are “of course not enough for a normal life.”

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