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Putin Sees Russia Economy at Pre-Crisis Level Mid-2012

Vladimir Putin

Dec. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Russia's economy will return to its "pre-crisis level" by mid-2012, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin predicted on a live TV call-in show today.

"On the whole, we are ending this year in a very satisfactory condition," Putin said, highlighting the creation of 1.2 million new jobs in 2010 and a decline in the number of those living under the poverty line. "We'll get back to the pre-crisis level in the first half of 2012."

Russia's recovery from last year's 7.9 percent contraction was hindered by a record heat wave and wildfires, which killed more than 50 people, devastated agricultural output, forced some manufacturers to halt production and hurt consumer demand. Gross domestic product may grow 3.8 percent this year, below the average growth rate of almost seven percent from 1999-2008, Putin said.

The Russian prime minister, who has maintained his annual tradition of addressing the nation since handing over the presidency in 2008 to his protege, Dmitry Medvedev, received half a million questions ahead of the call-in, broadcast live on state television, radio and the Internet.

Putin, 58, backed Medvedev as his successor because of a constitutional ban on three consecutive presidential terms. He hasn't ruled out returning to the presidency in May 2012 elections.

Next Term

Medvedev, 45, in his annual state-of-the-nation address on Nov. 30, devoted almost half the time to family issues in what commentators described as a lackluster speech. A day later, Putin gave an interview to CNN's Larry King, touching on foreign and domestic policies, and on Dec. 3 he flew to Zurich to claim victory for Russia's bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

Medvedev, who has made fighting corruption and reducing Russia's dependency on oil and gas the hallmark of his presidency, would like to run for a second term, his economic aide, Arkady Dvorkovich, told the British Broadcasting Corporation in an interview broadcast Dec. 10.

"I believe he does," want to gain four more years in the Kremlin, he said. "Otherwise, he would not work seriously on the initiatives he announced."

Medvedev and Putin will consult with each other on who should run, Dvorkovich told the BBC, according to the broadcaster's website.

In his first year in office, Medvedev pushed through a constitutional change extending the presidential term to six years from four, fueling speculation Putin was planning to return for another 12 years in 2012.


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