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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Medvedev Slams U.S. Ahead of Trip

RIA-Novosti / ReutersPresident Dmitry Medvedev leading the French and Spanish prime ministers into the Modern State and Global Security conference in Yaroslavl on Monday.

Just a week before a high-profile trip to the United States, President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday blamed the country for the economic crisis and called for a new and open world order to prevent a repeat that might be even worse.

“Last year, we witnessed how one country’s ill-conceived financial policies became the reason for a global financial crisis, whose effects every country … feels today,” Medvedev said at a Kremlin-sponsored international conference in Yaroslavl.

The forum, called Modern State and Global Security, roughly coincided with the first anniversary of the beginning of the Russian recession. It came ahead of a trip next week by Medvedev to New York, where he will address the United Nations General Assembly, and to Pittsburgh for a G20 summit on the crisis.

Providing a preview of what he is likely to say during his U.S. visit, Medvedev said international institutions needed to be reformed as well.

“I am certain that the future belongs to intelligent policies that are discussed openly and universally,” Medvedev said, Interfax reported.

While Medvedev clearly directed criticism over the crisis at the United States, as many Russian leaders have done over the past year, he did not mention the country by name at the conference, which was also attended by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon.

In a notable departure from policies under his predecessor, Vladimir Putin, Medvedev stressed that open criticism of another country’s internal affairs was not so wrong after all, at least if that country might cause global troubles.

“States must know more about each other and need to criticize not only each other’s foreign policies but also their domestic policies to show any shortcomings that can cause problems of international dimensions,” he told the more than 500 conference participants.

During his eight-year presidency, Putin regularly lambasted Western meddling in other countries, especially during political upheavals in the former Soviet Union.

Medvedev again presented his offer to create a new European security regime, saying Moscow was ready for “a meaningful dialogue” about that.

The proposal, one of his first foreign policy initiatives after becoming president in May 2008, has so far received lukewarm appraisals from European leaders, mainly because it appears to supersede NATO.

But Medvedev said the new treaty would not be directed against anybody and “should unite the will of all countries on European soil.”

The conference, organized by two Kremlin-connected think tanks and Yaroslavl University, brought experts from 18 countries to Yaroslavl, a city on the Volga four-hours drive north of Moscow.

It was dubbed the “Russian Davos” by state-controlled media Monday, in a reference to the Swiss resort that has been the venue of the World Economic Forum.

The Kremlin hopes to hold the conference on a yearly basis. We “will do everything possible to make the venue of this conference develop in the future,” Medvedev’s foreign policy aide Sergei Prikhodko said, Itar-Tass reported.

The Yaroslavl conference followed a meeting between Putin and the Valdai group of Western experts on Russia last Friday, where the prime minister did not exclude a comeback in 2012 when Medvedev’s first term in office expires.

Analysts said the Yaroslavl forum might become a tool for Medvedev to raise his international profile, but cautioned that this was not an indicator of any rift with Putin.

Medvedev “could establish this as his answer to the St. Petersburg [International Economic] Forum, which is closely linked to Putin,” said Mikhail Vinogradov, an analyst with Petersburg Politics Fund, a think tank.

Masha Lipman, an analyst with the Carnegie Moscow Center, said such events showed that it was wrong to look at Medvedev merely as a puppet.

“He can make his own statements and own decisions,” she said.

But she added that Medvedev’s capacity to implement decisions “is secondary only to Putin’s.”

Medvedev also held bilateral talks with the French and Spanish prime ministers.  Zapatero promised after his meeting with Medvedev that Spain would use its tenure as European Union president, which starts in January, to improve ties with Moscow, Interfax reported.

Other prominent participants included Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Romano Prodi, the former Italian prime minister and former EU Commission president.

Medvedev will meet the Valdai group on Tuesday in Moscow.

Incidentally, Monday was Medvedev’s 44th birthday.