President Dmitry Medvedev delivered his third annual national address; Medvedev outlined Russia’s position and strategy for economic, political and social development; Medvedev calls for an agreement between Russia and the West on missile defence;
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  • Russian President Dmitry Medvedev delivered his third annual national address on November 30. In his speech, the President outlined Russia’s position and strategy for economic, political and social development and highlighted the key security and military reforms that Russia intended to focus on.1 One of the principal areas of focus was on modernizing the economy to improve the competitive environment of the country. The President tried to rev up the mood of the domestic audience by predicting a domestic growth rate of four percent in-spite of the massive economic problems compounded by rising food inflation and other challenges facing faced by the nation.2 He promised to his electorate that the government would continue to fulfil all its social obligations. The state employees were promised a wage revision in the next year. Elimination of corruption and military and political reforms were some of the other stated objectives mentioned by the President.

    Medvedev also announced a state plan to improve the health of children, cut down on infant mortality and also proposed giving free land and monetary support to families with three or more children. This was in response to the demographic plunge which Russia has been forced to weather for quite some time now.3 Meanwhile, the President highlighted some of the key progress Russia has made in the last few years. This includes building new energy efficient reactors, up-gradation of GLONASS satellite systems and the presence of 11 Russian super computers are in the world’s top 500 list.4

    On the international front, Medvedev called for an agreement between Russia and the West on missile defence stating that failure to do so would result in a new arms race which the world could ill afford to have. Medvedev stressed that Russia and "other interested countries" should cooperate to strengthen "the mechanisms to counter the proliferation of missile technology." The Russian president also called for enhanced cooperation with the United States and the European Union to advance his agenda of modernizing Russia's economy. "The mechanisms of Russian-American partnership must be used to establish full-scale economic cooperation, improve the investment climate, and to cooperate in the high-technology sphere," Medvedev said.5

    However, in a dramatic decision, football’s premier governing body FIFA voted to award the 2018 FIFA world cup to Russia.6 This was a huge victory for Russia which till the polling started, was appearing to be lagging behind England. Russia also overcame stiff challenges from the combined bids of Portugal- Spain on one hand and Belgium and Netherlands on the other. The victory is remarkable for the fact that it will be the first time that the World Cup will be held in eastern part of Europe. It also brings to fruition the massive efforts of the Russian government to put the country on the centre stage of world sports. The football world cup ranks next only to the Summer Olympics in terms of prestige and attention.7

    It would be worth noting that Russia has already won the bid to host the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi and the showpiece annual formula one event will also be held from the same year onwards. With the country hosting three major world sporting events in the next eight years, there is going to be a massive infusion of capital to boost the country’s crumbling infrastructure and upgrade the transport and tourism sectors which seen as a legacy development.8 Expectedly, the stock markets responded on a very positive note with the MICEX index reaching its highest level since July 2008.9