World Putin Kicks Off Presidential Bid With Pledge to Boost Incomes

17:07  14 december  2017
17:07  14 december  2017 Source:   Bloomberg

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SHGABAD, TURKMENISTAN - OCTOBER 2: (RUSSIA OUT) Russian President Vladimir Putin smiles during Russian-Turkmen talks October 2, 2017 in Ashgabad, Turkmenistan. Vladimir Putin is having a one-day state visit to Turkmenistan. Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)© Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images SHGABAD, TURKMENISTAN - OCTOBER 2: (RUSSIA OUT) Russian President Vladimir Putin smiles during Russian-Turkmen talks October 2, 2017 in Ashgabad, Turkmenistan. Vladimir Putin is having a one-day state visit to Turkmenistan. Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images) (Bloomberg) -- President Vladimir Putin pledged to bolster incomes as he effectively kicked off his election campaign for a fourth term by assuring Russians that the economy is rebounding after the worst recession in two decades.

“Today, there are clear signs of recovery in the economy,” Putin said at his annual press conference in Moscow on Thursday, as he declared domestic issues such as health, education, infrastructure and living standards would be his electoral priorities. “Without any doubt, everything must be directed toward increasing citizens’ incomes.”

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Putin, 65, is holding court after declaring last week that he’ll seek to extend his 18 years in power for another six years in March presidential elections. While he seeks to become the Kremlin’s longest-serving ruler since Josef Stalin, Russia’s economy risks stagnation after a two-year downturn caused by a slump in oil prices and Western sanctions plunged millions of people into poverty.

Asked whether it was boring for him to run in the election without serious competition, Putin said it wasn’t his job to develop a political opposition though Russia needs a balanced, competitive political system. He criticized activists for simply condemning the authorities rather than offering genuine alternative policies to people, many of whom were unhappy with the situation in Russia.

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May Orders

Putin said as many as 94 percent of the targets he’d set out in a series of decrees known as the May Orders after his 2012 election had been met, including improved salaries for public sector workers.

During Putin’s first two terms as president in 2000-2008, booming crude prices helped the economy notch 7 percent average annual expansion. The central bank has warned that without reforms, not even oil at $100 a barrel would lift medium-term gains in gross domestic product beyond a range of 1.5 percent to 2 percent.

GDP will add 1.8 percent this year and 1.6 percent in 2018, according to the International Monetary Fund, half the expansion it projects for world output.

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Putin’s holding his press conference, which lasted a record 4 hours and 40 minutes in 2008, after returning from a whirlwind Middle East tour on Monday that included visiting Syria to declare “victory” in the military campaign in aid of President Bashar al-Assad, a strategic gamble that’s enhanced Russia’s influence in the region at U.S. expense.

--With assistance from Olga Tanas

To contact the reporters on this story: Henry Meyer in Moscow at hmeyer4@bloomberg.net, Ilya Arkhipov in Moscow at iarkhipov@bloomberg.net, Stepan Kravchenko in Moscow at skravchenko@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory L. White at gwhite64@bloomberg.net, Tony Halpin, Torrey Clark

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

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