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Russian official warns political infighting could lead to collapse

AFP | April 5, 2005

MOSCOW: Following popular revolts in several ex-Soviet states, a senior Russian official warned politicians to avoid infighting to prevent a possible collapse of the vast nuclear-armed country.

The chief of the administration of President Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Medvedev, urged the country's political parties to develop coherent platforms and policies to provide a healthy alternative, while warning against internecine infighting in the government.

"If we do not manage to consolidate the elite, Russia could cease to exist as a unified state," he warned in an interview published in Expert magazine.

The recent ouster of pro-Russian regimes following massive street protests in three ex-Soviet nations of Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan has sparked consternation and concern among Russian officials.

"We have managed to strengthen the state's unity and to ensure enough stability for economic growth over recent years. But if we relax now and let ourselves be carried whichever way the waves go, the results would be disastrous," Medvedev said.

While Putin's approval ratings have remained high, there has been growing popular discontent with his handling of the war in Chechnya and social reforms.

"There are still serious problems that could cause public upheaval and lead to social cataclysms," when Russia itself goes to the polls in 2008 to choose a new president, Medvedev admitted.

"The main risk is destabilisation of public life due to terrorism or primitive economic mistakes and accompanied by wide-scale infighting among the elite," he pointed out. - AFP


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