Putin urges Russian self-reliance as economy slackens

MOSCOW - President Vladimir Putin has warned Russians of hard times ahead as he delivers his annual state of the nation address to parliament.

Speaking to both chambers in the Kremlin, Mr Putin condemned Western governments for seeking to raise a new iron curtain around Russia.

Western sanctions, in response to Russia's role in eastern Ukraine, and falling oil prices have hit hard.

The government has warned that Russia will fall into recession next year.

In an attempt to kick-start the economy he proposed a "full amnesty" for capital to return to Russia. Capital flight is estimated at more than $100bn (£64bn; €81bn) this year.

He also proposed a four-year freeze on tax rates.

On Monday, the rouble suffered its biggest one-day fall since 1998.

The currency slid almost 9% against the dollar before rallying after suspected central bank intervention.

From the outset of his speech, in front of an audience of 1,100 people, Mr Putin defended Russia's annexation of Crimea in March, saying that the Ukrainian peninsula's residents were "our people".

He insisted that the "tragedy" in Ukraine's south-east had proved that Russian policy had been right, but said Russia would respect its neighbour as a brotherly country.

Condemning the "pure cynicism" of the West, he complained that even if Crimea had not been annexed, the West would have come up with a different pretext to impose sanctions to contain Russia's resurgence.

Then he began to accuse Western governments of trying to raise a new iron curtain around Russia. While he asserted that Russia would not enter an "expensive arms race", it would provide its own security so that nobody would gain military domination. Russia had enough "power, will and courage" to protect itself, he added.

Moving on to the economy, Mr Putin pledged that Russia would be open to the world - to foreign investment and joint projects. But he warned that it faced a "hard time ahead: much depends on each of us at our workplace". Western sanctions should be seen as a stimulus, he argued.

"We have a huge internal market and resources, capable intelligent people," he said. The key was to give people the chance to flourish.

Comments (7)

Putin reminds me so much of our own President Mugabe: he is willing to fight tooth and nail for his country, against any and all powers who may pose a threat. It is an honourable trait. Both presidents have earned my respect in this regard.

A - 5 December 2014

They are like a man who says to his women no one can have you but me, and goes on to shoot his women and kids....what have the kids done.....(we the citizens are the kids)There are 14million people in this country...its ours not HIS.......

rudeboy - 5 December 2014

Putin has no known business interests, was a civil servant all his life but he is the world's 3rd richest man. Ask yourself how, on a civil servant's salary.

Owen - 5 December 2014

Mr Putin you cannot win it both ways. You want to be a bully? Go for it. The price of oil and gas will continue to drop until you come to your senses. Donate some of your millions that are somewhere outside Russia to the Russian Federation government otherwise your ruble will continue to rumble down like a roller coaster. Sorry mate.

garikayi - 7 December 2014

zvava kurwadza ka vaPutin? they must have 20 yrs under santions and Russia will be another Zim/Poland.

Pick - 11 December 2014

Russia is also looking for FDI like Zim. The 2 beggers deserve each other now.

Sheila Goreraza - 11 December 2014

The man is slowly coming to his senses.There is always a reality and you can never run away from it. Wait until the citizens begin to feel the pinch and hatred creeps in...

Tahir Iqbal - 28 December 2014

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