President Vladimir Putin underscored his commitment to liberal economic reforms on Tuesday and told parliament the government should not rest on its laurels after record post-Soviet growth last year. In his annual state of the nation address, Putin said he was worried by signs of a slowdown after the highest growth levels in almost 30 years. Gross domestic product grew 7.7 percent in 2000, but is expected to slow to four percent this year. Putin said living standards were still low and the investment climate left much to be desired, resulting in as much as $20 billion a year in capital flight. ""In the last few months the worsening state of several economic indicators raises concern, especially against the background of the uncertain development of the world economy."" Putin was referring to slower industrial output growth and high inflation which has eroded the competitiveness of Russian producers by leading to a real appreciation of the ruble.
A Russian emigre living in Switzerland returned home to pick up one of his country's most coveted literary prizes at a lavish ceremony Tuesday with a novel so complex it makes Dostoyevsky look like light reading.