USSR legacy haunts Russia

10/01/2019 Posted by admin

In his second annual state of the nation address since being returned to power in a landslide win last year, Mr Putin said the forces that brought down the Soviet Union were still at work.

The nation’s security remains at risk following string of attacks, including the Beslan school massacre, he told the nation during the live broadcast.

“There must not be any illusions here. The threat is still strong,” the president said.

President Putin also answered recent criticisms that he has been backsliding on democracy since coming to power in 2000, through his restraints on independent media, ending the direct election of governors and attacking the politically-ambitious oil tycoon, Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

The Russian leader said the need for national stability and security must coincide with the gradual shift to democratic principles.

He said the protection of human rights and rule of law would be among Russia’s top priorities in the years ahead.

“We are a free nation and our place in the modern world will be defined only by how strong and successful we are,” Mr Putin said.

However, he added that democracy must be adopted on Russian terms, saying it alone “will decide for itself the pace, terms and conditions of moving towards democracy”.

“Any unlawful methods of struggle… for ethnic, religious or other interests contradict the principles of democracy. The state will react (to such attempts) with legal, but tough means,” the president warned.

Economic priorities were also mentioned, with Mr Putin calling for a range of measures to encourage confidence both abroad and at home.

A new, flat 13 percent tax on declared capital was suggested as a way of stemming the flight of money out of the country into foreign-held bank accounts.

He demanded tax officials stop ‘terrorising business’ and urged them to focus on assessing current company tax bills rather than chasing back-taxes.

Russia’s largest oil company, Yukos, fell foul of the tax department last year, prompting a sharp outflow of funds from the country by frightened investors.

Mr Putin made no mention of his promise to double gross domestic product in 10 years, unlike his previous two state of the nation speeches.

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