Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who was given the honor to open the World Economic Forum in Davos, switched to his typical tough style of talking. His remarks were not similar to his renowned speech in Munich (it was his most anti-Western speech during his entire presidency), but he did exercise some of his tough rhetoric.
Putin continued the discussion in Davos yesterday morning in the Q&A format. The first question was: “How do you see the image of Russia today?”
“We do not run for exclusiveness. We want to be accepted as an equal partner, without exceptions and exemptions. We are not handicapped people, we do not need to be helped, as one of our colleagues offered me yesterday,” Putin replied.
“The biggest obstacle sits in the heads. We could turn our history back and return to, let’s say, the restriction of the capital flow. We did have a large outflow of capital - $130 billion - but we deliberately did not enforce any bans. We will make our economy and our country open,” the head of the Russian government said.
He continued more emphatically: “Now I want to return the puck to you. Just think of the image of your countries in Russia . There is no need to stick your nose up in the air and say that everything is perfect in your countries. You will then realize that the world must change. If you treat yourself critically, we will probably achieve harmony,” Putin said.
The second question from European entrepreneurs was very much like the first one. They questioned the objectiveness of Russian laws towards Western investors. The prime minister urged Europe to cease the colonial practice and build business on a mutually beneficial basis.
“There is no need to fog anyone’s mind here. One should play an honest game, the come-and-snatch principle is not appropriate here,” Putin said.
Those members of the forum, who look positively at Russia, said that the country could offer non-standard opportunities for an economic dialogue. The Russian government, they say, has a serious trump card – the nation’s gold and currency reserves and enormous natural resources. Those, who share a negative opinion on Russia, do not believe the statements from the Russian administration. Putin did not conquer them with his opening speech.
In the meantime, the Russian ruble continues to decline against the dollar and the euro. Andrei Sharonov, a member of the Russian delegation at the forum in Davos, a former deputy economic development minister, said that investors were trying to sound out the bottom of the Russian ruble. “It is important for investors’ return to the Russian currency, although unscrupulous market members use this opportunity too,” the official said.