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PRESS RELEASES

10.12.2014

In Conversation with Dmitry Medvedev. Interview with five television channels

The Russian Prime Minister answered questions from TV anchors Irada Zeinalova (Channel One), Sergei Brilyov (VGTRK), Marianna Maksimovskaya (Ren TV), Vadim Takmenyov (NTV) and Mikhail Zygar (TV Rain).

Sergei Brilyov: Good afternoon. TV channels Rossiya 1, Rossiya 24 and Rossiya HD and Vesti FM radio are broadcasting the traditional annual live interview with Dmitry Medvedev. Good afternoon, Mr Medvedev.

Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon.

Sergei Brilyov: Good afternoon colleagues. I won’t introduce you because the country knows you very well and there will be also subtitles for those who don’t.

Mr Medvedev, since I represent the host channel, I will ask the first question if I may. This is an annual programme, but there has never been such a packed year or such a dramatic yearend, at least not in Russia’s history. There have been many important events this year, including Crimea’s reunification with Russia and a Victory parade in Sevastopol. But there were also sanctions and response sanctions, which have added to the economic slowdown that began before the events in Ukraine. The price of oil is falling, and there is rouble and food price turmoil. So I will break with tradition and not ask you about the yearend results but will take the bull by the horns: Will we have to review the national budget, which is based on realities that have changed even though it was prepared about a month ago? Will we have to do this?

Dmitry Medvedev: Sergei, I will nevertheless start with the yearend results. I fully agree that this year was out of the ordinary for the country. It was packed with events including remarkable achievements and serious problems. Speaking about the past events, we should nevertheless start with the economy.

It’s true that negative trends have been adding up in our economy for the past few years. In truth, we have not fully emerged from the 2008 crisis. Yes, recovery growth alternated with decline, but the fact is there were signs of crisis in the economy all along. But we still recorded a positive result this year despite everything. There will be GDP growth this year, which is really important, especially compared to other countries.

This year our GDP will grow, which is very important, especially compared to other countries. Yes, a series of negative trends have emerged in our country, such as rising inflation and prices. From all indications, inflation this year will be over 9 percent even though our targets were different. This also has brought about a situation where food prices began to be affected by a number of negative factors. In this sense, the year’s results are somewhat controversial.

Nevertheless, I believe that, despite everything that is happening, we have managed to ensure the result we sought to achieve. This result is to have a balanced budget. Of course, this has come at a price: We had to abandon a number of programs and sacrifice something, if you will, but nevertheless, it will be possible to preserve this next year.

Regarding next year’s scenarios (as you put it, “taking the bull by the horns”), indeed, at present, we have one scenario and, there’s no hiding it, conditions can change. We are watching the situation unfold on the oil market. If you recall, at the end of last year the price of oil was $110 and even $115 per barrel, now it is $65-70. In other words, the price is effectively half of what it was. Naturally, this has led to a number of important consequences, primarily those related to the rate of the rouble. So if economic conditions change significantly, we will have to review the scenario and ultimately make budgetary decisions. But we are not doing this yet.

Irada Zeinalova: Mr Medvedev, would you say that the current decline of the rouble has been provoked intentionally? Is it happening for purely market reasons, or are financial authorities controlling the process? A weaker rouble is more convenient for the federal budget, filling the gaps emerging because of the fall in the oil prices, isn’t it?

Dmitry Medvedev: Irada, I would not say it was actually provoked by some force alone. I do not believe we can apply the “it is happening because it benefits someone” formula to this situation. Obviously, the rouble fluctuations depend on a whole range of factors. These factors are well known, but I will mention them nonetheless. What are they? First of all, the price of oil. I just explained how the oil price has been changing. There is a correlation here, although it is not a direct dependency. When oil fell to a half of what it cost, this certainly weakened the rouble.

The second factor that has naturally influenced the rouble rate is the outside pressure that Russia is currently experiencing. Whatever they say, sanctions always create certain expectations, in one way or another, as financiers put it. These expectations, in turn, influence public sentiment – both individuals and companies – and therefore affect the rouble in one way or another.

Finally, there is a range of other factors that also influence the situation to some extent, including the unavoidable play around the national currency.

More to be posted soon...

 




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