Page last updated at 16:20 GMT, Wednesday, 25 June 2008 17:20 UK

Medvedev: Graft is security risk

Dmitry Medvedev on the problems in Russia

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has described corruption in his country as a threat to national security, in an interview with Reuters news agency.

He also accepted the problem of poverty in Russia had not yet been defeated.

Mr Medvedev said he had "not a bad partnership" with his predecessor Vladimir Putin.

Mr Medvedev won March's presidential election as the preferred candidate of the hugely popular Mr Putin, who became PM last month as his protege took over.

The new Russian president's interview with Reuters was his first with Western media since he took office in May.

Speaking in Russian, Mr Medvedev said: "We have specific Russian problems, I will mention two of these. Firstly, poverty which we haven't yet defeated.

'Volume of criticism'

"We are going to work hard at this in the next few years, using all of our economic might.

"And the second problem I must mention is corruption, corruption as a systemic challenge, as a threat to national security, as a problem which leads to a lack of faith among citizens in the ability of government to impose order and protect them."

On the eve of a summit in Siberia with European Union leaders, Mr Medvedev warned that his country's foreign policy would not be determined by what he called the "volume of criticism".

The BBC's James Rodgers in Moscow says Mr Medvedev was frank about the challenges which his country faces.

Not every Russian has had their share of the construction and consumer boom spawned by rising oil and gas prices, our correspondent says.

Russia is the world's second biggest oil exporter but analysts say rising inflation and widespread poverty have resulted in a huge gap in living standards.

Graft is said to be endemic - a senior Russian prosecutor estimated earlier this month that corrupt officials were pocketing $120bn (60bn) a year.

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