Putin calls US a ‘parasite’ on world economy
Putin makes his remarks at pro-Kremlin youth camp between bouts of arm-wrestling and wall-climbing
Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin has attacked America as a "parasite" on the world economy and argued that Russia and other countries should seek new reserve currencies to stop "a systemic malfunction" in the US spreading. Putin made his belligerent remarks during a visit to a youth camp where he also joined in activities such as arm wrestling and wall climbing.
As US president Barack Obama announced his last-ditch debt deal yesterday, Putin told the youth rally that America was "not living within its means", according to AFP. It was also "shifting the weight of responsibility on other countries and in a way acting as a parasite", he added, evoking a term used by Soviet leaders to demonise those who did not work, study or serve the Communist state.
Putin also called for Russia and countries such as China to look to other reserve currencies as well as the US dollar. Russia currently keeps almost half its reserves in US assets such as bonds and treasuries.
Some observers noted yesterday that Putin's visit to the Nashi ('our people') lakeside youth camp in central Russia was only the latest in a string of public appearances in the run-up to the December parliamentary elections.
The Russian PM, casually dressed in khaki trousers and striped white shirt, was greeted by throngs of young people after he flew in to the camp by helicopter. Groups of teenagers chanted Putin's name and cheered his remarks as he strolled around the camp, briefly swinging himself up onto the lower reaches of a climbing wall for the benefit of the television cameras.
Yesterday, Putin would not comment on whether he plans a return to the presidency or whether he will stand aside to allow his protege and successor, president Dmitry Medvedev, to run for a second term in the March 2012 presidential elections.
Opinion polls show Putin, who retains near 70 per cent public approval, is still widely considered the country's supreme leader. The teenagers flocking around Putin yesterday were adamant that they want him back in the top job. "Russia's next president will be small, bald and look like Putin," Ilya Mzokov, 17, told reporters. Asked why Medvedev was not paying a visit to the summer camp, he said: "Only serious people come here." ·
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