* Medvedev calls for rule of law, property rights
* Says corruption holding back Russian economy
By Alexei Anishchuk
ST PETERSBURG, Russia, May 20 Corruption and the
lack of a consistent rule of law hinder Russia's development,
President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday, as he sought to
present himself as a reformer ahead of a 2012 election.
Russia, the world's largest energy producer, says it needs
trillions of dollars in investment to reduce reliance on oil,
gas and metals exports and to bolster economic growth rates
which are forecast far below those in China and India.
Medvedev, who has pitched himself as an alternative to Prime
Minister Vladimir Putin ahead of the March 2012 presidential
election, called on senior officials and judges to ensure
property rights were protected and the law implemented.
"Even the best laws will not work, will remain simple
declarations, if judicial institutions don't work, or if the
institutional procedures are too flabby or excessive," Medvedev
told a legal forum in his hometown of St Petersburg.
"Shortcomings in implementing laws, a lack of respect for
courts and corruption are not just the perceptions of society
but they are basically macro-economic factors which restrain the
growth of national prosperity," he said.
With oil prices hovering at $100 a barrel, Russia forecasts
that its economy will grow 4.5 percent annually over the next
four years to about $2.3 trillion in 2015, half the growth rates
forecast for China's $5.9 trillion economy. [ID:nLDE74J01M]
Western executives agree that a lack of respect for the rule
of law holds back Russia's economy, but many say privately that
Medvedev has done little to improve the situation since Putin
steered him into the Kremlin in 2008.
Investors say they run the risk of extortion when seeking a
slice of the vast profits on offer in Russia and anti-bribery
groups say corruption has increased under Medvedev.
Transparency International rated Russia joint 154th out of
178 nations in its corruption perceptions index last year, along
with Cambodia, Kenya and Laos. It was Russia's lowest ranking
since the index began in 1995. In 2009 it was 146th.
Russia was perceived to be more corrupt than any other
member of the G8, G20 or even peers such as India, China and
Brazil, which were ranked at 87th, 78th and 69th, Transparency
"Corruption is a challenge. It exists in every country. In
countries that are swiftly developing, like Russia, it is very
significant, it is huge," Medvedev said. "The trillions of
dollars we pay for such development is an unacceptable price."
Medvedev said he had made progress in creating what he
called a "lawful state" but admitted there was still a vast
amount of work to be done to help businesses.
"Honest entrepreneurs must be confident in property rights,
in the rights to what they have purchased in any deals,"
(Writing by Guy Faulconbridge, editing by Michel Rose)