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Last Updated: Friday, 15 February 2008, 07:44 GMT
'Heir to Putin' in economy pledge
Dmitry Medvedev Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, 14 February 2008

The man expected to become Russia's next president, Dmitry Medvedev, has said that reducing the economic role of the state was among his priorities.

In a speech that focused on the economy, Mr Medvedev also said he would tackle corruption if elected.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has named Mr Medvedev as his favoured successor. Elections are scheduled for 2 March.

Mr Putin is expected to retain a major role under the next presidency.

Mr Medvedev, 42, is first deputy prime minister and head of Russia's state gas monopoly, Gazprom.

Speaking at the Krasnoyarsk economic forum in Siberia on Friday, he said "a significant share of the functions carried out by state organs should be given over to the private sector".

Large state-owned companies should adapt to remain competitive, he said.

"I think there is no reason for the majority of state officials to sit on the boards of those firms.

"They should be replaced by truly independent directors, which the state would hire to implement its plans."

Rule of law

Mr Medvedev said he would seek to make Russia into "one of the biggest financial centres in the world" with a stable currency, strong banking sector and reformed tax system.

He talked little about foreign policy or defence but stressed the need to create an independent judiciary.

"One of the key elements of our work in the next four years will be ensuring the independence of our legal system from the executive and legislative branches of power," he said.

Mr Medvedev also spoke of the need to mend what he called the "law breaking" habits of Russians.

"What kind of equal opportunity and innovative thinking can there be if everybody knows that rights only belong to those with the sharpest teeth, and not those who obey the law," he said.

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