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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Illarionov: Russia No Longer a G-7 Beggar

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Top presidential adviser Andrei Illarionov said Monday that the weekend economic summit of leading industrial democracies was a watershed event that made Russia a full participant in the Group of Eight.

Illarianov, who joined President Vladimir Putin at the meeting in Genoa, Italy, said Russia has moved from asking for help to suggesting solutions, and from talking to taking action.

"Russia today comes to the G-8 summit not with its hands out to beg, but with its hands out to give," Illarionov said. "The well-known formula [G-7 + Russia] is no longer applicable. Russia, on equal footing with other countries, discusses global problems, offers solutions and makes as much of a contribution as we can relative to our economic potential," he said.

Russia scored political points at the summit by agreeing to contribute $20 million to a fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. And it took a step toward opening its borders by agreeing to lower import barriers on goods, except arms, from nations on the United Nation's list of least developed countries, said Illarionov.

In the past year the five main stumbling blocks to the country's ascension to full G-8 membership have been, or are being addressed, Illarionov said.

Russia no longer needs to borrow from the International Monetary Fund and is regularly servicing its debt, in particular the $48 billion debt to the Paris Club of creditor nations. And progress is being made on the other three issues — money laundering, nuclear safety, and ascension to the World Trade Organization.

The upper house of parliament last week passed anti-money laundering legislation in answer to threats by the Financial Action Task Force, a G-7 subgroup, to enforce financial restrictions if measures weren't taken by September. And Illarionov said progress would soon be evident on the nuclear safety issue.

The final barrier is that Russia is the only G-8 nation that is not a WTO member, said Illarionov.

Recent negotiations over Russia's eight-year bid to enter the WTO have stalled over customs policies, agricultural and industrial subsidies, insufficient protection of intellectual property rights and other issues.

"Russia has done more in the past year to enter the WTO than in the past seven years of negotiations," Illarionov said. Under pressure from the president, the State Duma passed a laundry list of bills in June and July to spur economic growth and bring the country into line with WTO demands. Nonetheless, the government has asked for a transition period to bring the country into full compliance.

Putin announced Monday that G-7 leaders backed Russia's entry "on conditions that are acceptable to us," news agencies reported.

However, the political backing of G-7 countries — the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Canada — is not enough to join the WTO, said one top official at the European Commission, the European Union's policy-making body.

"If anyone in Russia believes that political support alone is going to get [the country] in through a shortcut, that would be a total misperception. This is a commercial issue," said the official, who asked that his name be withheld.

A meeting between WTO head Michael Moore and Putin scheduled during the summit was canceled for unclear, "technical reasons," said Illarionov, but talks would at a WTO conference in Qatar in November.