World News

Russia's Putin draws parallel with Roosevelt

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday compared himself to Franklin D. Roosevelt, the U.S. leader who served three full terms and is credited with laying the foundations for his country’s prosperity.

When asked about his vision for Russia’s future, Putin -- who is to step down when his second term ends next year but is expected to retain significant influence -- drew a parallel with Roosevelt’s New Deal plan conceived in the 1930s depression.

“Roosevelt laid out his plan for the country’s development for decades in advance” and was criticized for that by the U.S. elite, Russian news agencies quoted Putin as saying.

“At the end of the day it turned out that the implementation of that plan benefited ordinary citizens and the elites and eventually brought the United States to the position it is in today.”

“We are not doing anything unique,” Putin said, referring to his own administration’s plans. “As we move out of a systemic crisis, we have to do a lot of things in what you could call a hands-on style.”

Putin was speaking to Russian reporters after a televised question-and-answer session with citizens.

Many Russian voters credit Putin with bringing stability and economic growth after the chaos that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. He says his aim now is to entrench policies that will ensure Russia’s long-term prosperity.

He did not say if he planned to replicate Roosevelt’s longevity: the former U.S. president served from 1933 until he died in office in 1945.

Putin is nearing the end of his second consecutive term, the maximum allowed under Russia’s constitution. He says he will leave office. Some analysts speculate though he could return to the presidency at a later date.