Medvedev Points Finger at U.S. 'Egotism' in Global Economic Crisis

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Saturday criticized the United States for "economic egotism," saying it has fueled global troubles, and portrayed Russia's growing economic might as a force for worldwide stabilization.

Recklessness by big banks and "the aggressive financial policies of the biggest economy in the world" have not just hurt corporations, Medvedev said. "Unfortunately, most people on the planet have become poorer," he said.

Medvedev's comments to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, a gathering of thousands of businessmen, came exactly a month after his inauguration. It was one of the most high-profile domestic appearances of his presidency, which so far has been marked mostly by issuing decrees.

Although Medvedev has not shown much of his predecessor Vladimir Putin's penchant for sharply criticizing the United States, his speech showed he shares Putin's views of America as a power-hungry and sometimes irresponsible country intent on dominating world affairs.

He said some countries increasingly strive to help themselves while ignoring the interests of others.

"In fact, this is growing economic egotism," Medvedev said. He said that while this is natural in some respects, it sometimes amounts to "economic nationalism" when pragmatic interests are replaced with political considerations.

Many observers have criticized Russia for similar nationalism, seeing the country use its enormous gas and oil reserves as instruments of political power.

But Medvedev claimed Russia is only using its resources to become more integrated in the global economy.

"Russia is a global player today. Understanding our responsibility for the fate of the world, we wish to participate in forming new rules of the game, not because of the notorious 'imperial ambitions' but because we have official opportunities and resources here," he said.

Medvedev wants to develop Russia's hydrocarbons business further through liberalizing the gas market and easing the tax burden on the country's oil sector. He said such steps would help ensure stability on global energy markets.

He also repeated previously expressed desires to see Russia become an international financial center of the order of New York or London, and proposed holding an international financial conference this year.