Russia isn’t in danger of a revolution from demonstrations against alleged fraud in parliamentary elections last month and the government is “on the right track” in responding to them, the head of the country’s biggest bank said.
“This is no Arab Spring,” OAO Sberbank Chief Executive Officer German Gref, a former economy minister, told reporters today in Moscow. “We can’t even think about it.”
Demands from opposition politicians and former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin for new elections aren’t “rational,” Gref said, adding he has no plans to return to government.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, 59, is facing the biggest challenge to his 12-year rule after tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets to challenge December’s election, which his ruling United Russia party won. More than 16,600 have indicated they will attend the next Moscow demonstration on Feb. 4, according to the organizers’ Facebook Inc. page. Putin plans to return as president through a March 4 vote.
President Dmitry Medvedev last month proposed legislation to make it easier to register parties and run for president. The changes will take full effect in 2016 and 2018, when the next parliamentary and presidential elections are scheduled.
“Russia’s growth over the next decades means expanding freedoms for each of us,” Putin wrote in a Jan. 16 article in the Izvestia newspaper and posted on his website.
Russia would like to see Europe’s economic situation stabilize, Gref said, adding that the nation should offer assistance regardless of its domestic political cycle. Unlike Europe, Russia hasn’t reached the limit of its consumption and can help stoke demand as developed economies struggle, he said.
Even as the euro region grapples with a sovereign-debt crisis, there’s “nothing dangerous” for the ruble, Gref said.
Russia should support more funding for the International Monetary Fund, Gref said. “Stabilization of the situation in Europe is absolutely in Russia’s interest,” he said
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said on Jan. 17 her staff is studying options to increase the Washington-based fund’s war-chest. The lender is pushing China, Brazil, Russia, India, Japan and oil-exporting nations to be the top contributors, according to a Group of 20 official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are private.
Medvedev said Dec. 15 in Brussels that Russia is prepared to consider aid measures for the European Union in addition to its existing commitment to the IMF. On Oct. 31, a presidential adviser, Arkady Dvorkovich, said Russia was prepared to make as much as $10 billion available.