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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Soros Hails Renewed Vigor In Economic Policy-Making

The nation's lagging economy got a vote of confidence Tuesday from globe-trotting financier and philanthropist George Soros.

Soros, who has both business and charitable interests in Russia, said he was less enthusiastic about the Kremlin's heavy-handed political moves.

But the government of President Vladimir Putin appears intent on passing laws favorable to economic growth, Soros said Tuesday in an interview on Ekho Moskvy radio.

"I think there is a renewed vigor in the economic field," he said.

"I see the situation very positively. The administration is very serious about passing the right laws and reducing arbitrary interference in business," he said.

A frequent critic of the government, Soros lost several hundred million dollars in the 1998 ruble devaluation and default on national debt.

The loss included what he characterized Tuesday as an ill-timed investment in the telephone holding company Svyazinvest, which became nearly worthless after the crash.

The outspoken Soros cautioned Putin against authoritarian tendencies of the sort the Hungarian-born business ace has struggled to eradicate through a decade of philanthropic work.

Putin has vowed to clean up the nation's chaos with a "dictatorship of law," a phrase Soros took issue with.

"Instead of dictatorship of law I would like to see rule of law, where there are laws people can actually obey," he said. He criticized a recent tax police raid on Media-MOST, which runs television station NTV, which has been critical of the Kremlin.

Although Soros' Quantum Fund lost heavily in this spring's upheaval on the U.S. stock market, Soros said he would continue philanthropic work in Russia through his Open Society Institute. Programs will be phased out according to earlier plans, not due to losses in his investing activities.

Two programs supporting libraries and Internet access, together worth about $200 million, will be scaled down according to original plans, he said.