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Putin’s Russia Stable, Democracy Improving, Stepic Tells Kurier

Feb. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Russian premier Vladimir Putin guarantees stability in the country while democratic reforms continue, according to Herbert Stepic, the chief executive officer of one of the biggest foreign banks in Russia.

Stepic’s Raiffeisen Bank International AG, the third-biggest foreign-owned lender in Russia after Societe Generale SA and UniCredit SpA, is benefiting from Putin’s stability, he told Austrian daily newspaper Kurier in an interview. That’s because it means Raiffeisen has “normal working conditions” in the country, “similar to what we have in Austria,” he said.

“I’m absolutely convinced that there is a permanent process going on, even if it’s slow when it comes to democratic changes,” Stepic said. “The key prerequisite is what Putin guarantees, namely stability,” he said.

The biggest shortfall in Russia is that the judicial system doesn’t meet western standards, Stepic said. “There are significant weaknesses,” he said. “The Kremlin is absolutely aware of this. Therefore I believe that Putin will have to act in this area.”

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To contact the reporter on this story: Boris Groendahl in Vienna at bgroendahl@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Zoe Schneeweiss at zschneeweiss@bloomberg.net

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