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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Medvedev Embraces Russian Image as Bear

Ria-Novosti / ReutersMedvedev speaking in an NTV television interview broadcast on Sunday.

The Russian bear needs to be attractive to be respected by the rest of the world, and it cannot become stronger without good foreign relations, President Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview broadcast Sunday.

“Our image needs to be comfortable for those who deal with us,” Medvedev told NTV television. “We should not be prickly and hard to approach, but at the same time we should be able to give a firm response when circumstances call for it,” he said.

The Kremlin provided a transcript of the interview ahead of the broadcast.

Asked whether he felt uncomfortable with Russia’s image as a bear, Medvedev — whose own surname derives from the word — said, “It’s an image close to my heart.”

In a message to nationalists at home, Medvedev said better ties with the West were in Russia’s interests and that prosperity at home would help the country’s image abroad. “If we want to present the right image to the world, we need to resolve our pressing problems, above all our social and economic problems,” he said.

“We are striving to create a modern, competitive country,” he added. “We can only create such a country if we have normal ties with the world.”

The government should also continue working on implementing new rules and measures aimed at fighting corruption, Medvedev said in the interview.

“We have a national plan. We have a package of anti-corruption laws. I have recently signed a changed version of rules for state officials’ behavior, so in this sense everything is built,” Medvedev said. “Now, the most important thing is to learn how to use it, not to be afraid to implement these documents, to make these documents work. This is the most complicated.”

Medvedev has made modernizing the economy and introducing the rule of law his top priorities, and he has said the economic crisis has only ­emphasized the need for these changes.

He told NTV that creating closer ties with the West was a long-term strategy. “We cannot produce certain technologies, certain services ourselves … even if we create the most developed society and the most powerful economy,” he said.

As part of his rapprochement with the West, Medvedev has engaged with U.S. President Barack Obama in “resetting” relations between Moscow and Washington.

There are limits to how far Russia will compromise for better relations with the United States, he said.

“We watch without jealousy as other states build their relations with our international partners, including such an important partner as the United States,” he said.

“But we don’t think it is correct to drag other states into military and political alliances against the will of their people,” he said, referring to Ukraine and Georgia.

(Reuters, Bloomberg)