Medvedev Interview: Russian President Breaks From Putin In Landmark Interview With Opposition Newspaper

05/16/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Breaking with the tone established by his predecessor Vladimir Putin, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev stated outright in an interview with a well-known opposition newspaper that economic prosperity was no excuse for diminished democracy and political freedoms, the Moscow Times reports. Here are some key Medvedev statements from the interview, via RIA Novosti:

"I do not think we need to rehabilitate democracy. There has been, is and will be democracy," Medvedev said in his first interview with a Russian publication since taking office last May.


"You cannot set democracy against a full stomach," Medvedev said.

"Stability and a prosperous life cannot in any way be set off against a set of political rights and freedoms,"


"For many of our citizens, the difficult political -- and most importantly economic -- processes of the 1990s were linked with the advent of the main institutions of democracy in our country, and this was a very difficult period for them. This affixed an impression on their understanding of the term," he said.

The interview was conducted by the liberal newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which is typically critical of the Kremlin and which is now known for two of its journalists -- Anna Politkovskaya and Anastasia Baburova -- who have been murdered in 2006 and 2009, respectively, according to the Moscow Times. More from the Times:

Although the interview did not break ground in policy matters, Medvedev's giving it to Novaya Gazeta had symbolic resonance. The newspaper consistently challenges the Kremlin on matters including human rights, freedom of speech and Russia's alleged backsliding on democracy.

The Kremlin said Medvedev had given the interview as a gesture of solidarity with the newspaper, which has seen two of its reporters murdered in the past three years.


Medvedev said he had chosen the newspaper because it had never "kissed up" to anyone.

The newspaper, which has a circulation of 267,150, has admonished Putin for crushing freedoms. He never gave it an interview. The newspaper did interview Putin's predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, who resigned in 1999.

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