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#15 - JRL 7240
Putin says stronger democracy should foster economic growth

EDINBURGH, June 25 (Prime-Tass) -- Economy and democracy in Russia should both be developed so that stronger democracy encourages faster economic growth, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a gathering of British and Russian businessmen at the Signet Library Wednesday.

There are many problems left in Russia but the government knows how to solve them, Putin told the attending audience.

This is why we boldly set the goal of doubling our gross domestic product (GDP) within ten years, he said.

In order to attain the goal, an annual level of 7.2% GDP growth should be ensured, Putin said, adding that it is hard but possible.

Russia is developing so dynamically that our plans at times lag behind real life, while such achievements looked impossible just a few years ago, Putin said.

He went on to say that Russias GDP has been growing 6% a year on average during the past three years and a strong budget with a surplus allowed us to significantly cut the debt burden, which emancipated our business and created favorable conditions for foreign investment.

At the same time Putin cited an inadequate level of economic development, poor infrastructure and peoples low incomes as the main vices of the modern Russia.

However, these inadequacies are made up for by advantages such as a vast territory, huge reserves of natural resources and very high level of education, he said.

But, he admitted, natural resources cannot do anything by themselves and we are not going to rely solely on natural resources.

Putin once again reiterated that he does not foresee any changing of the Constitution.

Speaking of Russias federal system, Putin said that no centralization of power of the Soviet model is being carried out or will be carried out in future.

It is impossible to command everything that is going on in the regions from the center, at least, it is impossible to do so effectively, Putin said pledging that federative principles will only be strengthened.

Putin also confirmed once again, this time to British listeners, that he is not planning a third presidential term for himself.

There wont be three terms of President Putin for sure, this I can guarantee, he said.

We in Russia build our life on the Constitution, Putin said.

Most recently, on June 20, Putin said that he is not going to initiate any changes to the Constitution in order to extend a presidential term from four to five years even if he is elected for a second term.

Meanwhile, Putin has not officially announced that he is going to run in the next presidential election, which is slated for March 2004.

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