Russian Premier says financial crisis "far from over"
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned on Friday the financial crisis was "far from over" and said the government must act to stem attempts by "mercenary" political forces to organize protests on the back of the crisis, reproted
Putin made the comments in a meeting with leaders of the dominant pro-Kremlin party United Russia at his Novo-Ogoryovo residence outside Moscow.
"We are dependent on the global economy and must note that the crisis is far from over - it has not yet even reached its peak," Putin was quoted by news agency Interfax as saying.
There are signs that the Kremlin is worried of unrest growing as production stalls in about 500 industrial towns that are heavily dependent on single employers, a remnant of the Soviet-era industrialization drive.
President Dmitry Medvedev this month replaced governors in four regions most severely hit by rising unemployment to 7.7 per cent nationwide in December.
Some regions have already seen mass protests of government policies to deal with the crisis.
Last month, the government dispatched riot police to quell protests in Russia's Far East against a new tax on foreign-made vehicles. Many in the region make their living off importing cars.
Putin sought to calm fears on Friday over the economic slowdown, saying this year would bring "no catastrophe."
"We are able to keep the situation under control and we are sure to do it," he was quoted by news agency Ria-Novosti as saying.
But he took to task party officials, saying government handouts were not enough to fight the crisis and authorities must exercise the utmost control and efficiency.
Putin also said there was no need to "hesitate or be afraid" to act to stop "illegal protests" organized by political groups, "pursuing their own mercenary goals, who want to advertise themselves and are speculating on people's difficulties."
"We cannot under any circumstances allow such events to unfold here as have in many other countries," Putin added.