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Putin Urges Tough Economic Reforms

November 17, 2000

MOSCOW (AP) _ Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that Soviet-style industrial behemoths must undertake reforms and the government must reduce barriers to imports to survive in the global economy.

``Some Russian manufacturers will feel ill at ease under the pressure of cheaper foreign goods of higher quality. Nevertheless, this road should be taken, or else we will all die out as dinosaurs,″ Putin said during a visit to the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, according to Russian news reports.

Russia must open its borders to imports to integrate into the international community, he said.

``Such unpleasant things must be said,″ he added. ``Competition is impossible without losses.″

Putin has insisted that economic reforms must continue, and his top economic advisers are strongly pro-free market. Still, it remains unclear whether he will be able to overhaul inefficient industries that stalled under former President Boris Yeltsin or clean up corruption that has crippled the economy.

On Friday, he reiterated that raising Russians’ living standards is a top priority, particularly in remote regions that once relied almost solely on subsidies that have dried up since the 1991 Soviet collapse.

``The policy of the development of Siberia, which had been pursued for many years, proved to be inefficient today,″ he said according to ITAR-Tass. ``Many factors which made the work in Siberia attractive for people do not work now.″

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