View Full Version : Putin Highlights Demography, U.S. Influence As Threats

05-11-2006, 08:27 AM
Putin highlights demography, US influence as threats


11.05.2006 - 09:57 CET | By Lisbeth Kirk

Russia's biggest problem is a decline in its population by an average of almost 700,000 people a year, president Putin said in his seventh state of the nation address.

"The most acute problem facing our country today is the demographic problem", the Russian president said.

He suggested a 10-year programme to stop the sharp decline in Russia's population, including larger economic subsidies for parents and one-and-a-half years maternity leave with 40 percent of the previous wage paid by the state.

Russia's population is currently 143 million, but it has been shrinking since the breakdown of the Soviet Union.

"What is most important for our country? The Defence Ministry knows what is most important. Indeed, what I want to talk about is love, women, children. I want to talk about the family," the president said.

Mr Putin pointed out that Russian defence spending as a share of GDP is comparable or slightly less than in the other nuclear powers, France or Britain, for example.

But the Russian defence budget "bears no comparison at all with the defence spending figures in the United States," he said.

"Their defence budget in absolute figures is almost 25 times bigger than Russia's. This is what in defence is referred to as 'their home – their fortress'. And good on them, I say. Well done!"

"But this means that we also need to build our home and make it strong and well protected," president Putin said.

"We see, after all, what is going on in the world. The wolf knows who to eat, as the saying goes. It knows who to eat and is not about to listen to anyone, it seems," he said.

Mr Putin, president of the Russian Federation since March 2000, added that the mistakes of the Soviet Union, the mistakes of the Cold War era should not be repeated. "Neither in politics nor in defence strategy".

The speech also included a commitment to continue ongoing negotiations on Russian accession to the World Trade Organisation.

But these negotiations should not become a "bargaining chip on issues that have nothing to do with this organisation's activities," president Putin said.

Energy and nuclear energy are already important pillars of the Russian economy, while in future nanotechnology and space industry are also to grow. Russia should, moreover become a major exporter of intellectual services, the Russian president indicated.