Putin says Russia's economy two-thirds recovered
GENEVA (AP) — Russia's economy is recovering, but remains well below the level it was at before the global financial crisis, says Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, addressing a U.N. labor meeting in Geneva on Wednesday.
Putin said Russia has "managed to recover two-thirds of our economy, but still we have not reached pre-crisis levels." The Russian economy contracted by almost 8 percent during the recession.
He added that the economy — the world's sixth-largest — would reach pre-crisis levels by 2012, eventually rising to become one of the world's top five.
Putin also called for "a more fair and balanced economic model," as nations gradually recover from the world financial crisis that hit in 2008.
In April, Putin said in his annual address before Russian parliament that the key lesson from the financial crisis was for the country to be self-reliant and strong enough to resist outside pressure. He said Russia's economy grew 4 percent last year.
Putin, widely seen as wanting to reclaim his nation's presidency, said on Wednesday that his government is emphasizing social programs such as increasing aid for young mothers, disabled workers and people with health problems as it recovers.
Later in the day, Putin met with top U.N. officials to discuss refugees, Europe's economy, telecommunications and other issues. He said the information shared over satellites and radio frequencies that supports everything from cell phones to GPS devices is "gaining more and more importance on the international agenda."
On Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the 100th annual meeting of the International Labor Organization that her country has emerged from the financial crisis economically healthy and benefited from a government-backed plan for companies to reduce working hours.
Germany's unemployment rate stood at 7 percent in May, far below that of most European countries, despite high labor costs.
Merkel also said she hoped the labor meeting in Geneva would approve a new pact to protect domestic workers — such as cooks, nannies and cleaners — around the world.
The pact — the Domestic Workers Convention — is scheduled for approval Thursday, but has faced opposition from some African and Asian countries wary of granting labor rights to tens of millions of informal workers.