President Dmitry Medvedev urged Russia to refocus its economy away from old-style heavy industry and shift to focusing on IT, telecommunications and space technology. Medvedev added that Russia’s economy had been really stung by the global financial crisis and that the country’s big state corporations had “no prospects”. Who knew? In his second annual state of the nation-style speech, Medvedev proposed a series of reforms in such areas as the conduct of elections, dealing with corruption and generally being good to all living things. He also promised to give some really tough love to any people or groups who use democracy to destabilise the country and vowed to be really, really tough on those terrorists and bandits in the Caucasus region. Oh, and in case you weren’t paying close attention to this speech, Medvedev recommended reducing the number of time zones (now 11) in Russia. That, at least, should make train schedules easier to read. Whether the speech and its immediate aftermath will make any real difference to the babushka on the street remains to be seen. For more, read the New York Times and the BBC
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