Russia unveils $21B anti-crisis program

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MOSCOW: The Russian government unveiled on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) a $21 billion anti-crisis plan to tackle the country’s stalled economy, as President Vladimir Putin defiantly called for greater economic “sovereignty” due to Western sanctions.

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In a meeting with Putin, Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said the government needs 1.375 trillion rubles ($21 billion, 18 billion euros) to finance the new plan put together to rescue the economy.

He said the money would come from the budget as well as the national welfare fund—a massive pile of cash from energy exports accumulated over recent years when oil prices were high.

Russia is set to plunge into a deep recession in 2015 as its economy has been dealt a double blow by tumbling prices for oil—Russia’s main export commodity—and sanctions by the West, which accuses Moscow of involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Putin said as he chaired the meeting that Moscow had expected “international economic rules” to be stable, but has now learnt its lesson.

“Despite exterior stability of international economic rules, they are in fact subject to erosion by political factors,” Putin said.

“We were actually rather naive, thinking that these are fundamentals of the global economy which are unshakeable,” he said. “That is actually rather a lesson.”

But a defiant Putin said the sanctions would only push Russia to “increase its sovereignty in the economic sphere.”

However, he vowed to protect the poorest Russians.

“Whatever plans we make, we have to carry out our social obligations,” Putin said, referring to the promises made upon his reelection into a third historic term in 2012 to raise pensions and wages paid to state workers.

AFP

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