Russian President Vladimir Putin

Talking up the economy … Vladimir Putin makes his way to give his state of the nation address, in which he said ''we will implement everything we planned''. Photo: AP

MOSCOW: The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, made conditions in his country sound enviable when he delivered his state of the nation address - a view his critics immediately rejected.

''We will implement everything we planned,'' Mr Putin said, describing a Russia committed to democracy, where corruption would be fought, more jobs would be created, affordable housing would be built and pay would be increased.

''He has repeated all the unfulfilled promises he has made in the course of his 13 years in power,'' Vladimir Ryzhkov, an opposition politician, wrote in his blog, pointing out that new points included promises to improve spirituality and collegiality. ''It's social populism.''

Mr Putin appeared to anticipate the criticism, hinting that it was time to follow through on previous promises. ''If it needs to be done,'' he said, ''we must do it.''

Mr Putin's audience - the parliament, cabinet members and other high-level officials, including the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, gathered in an ornate Kremlin hall - applauded regularly.

He spoke for nearly 1½ hours, standing at a white lectern, sufficient time for Putin watchers to say that he must be recovering from his widely rumoured and intensely denied back pain.

Mr Putin was applauded for saying Russia should be an influential country; for promising more sports programs for children and plans to build housing so people can move out of shabby apartments; and for stating a commitment to make Russia's economy oriented towards new technology instead of dependent on natural resources such as oil. The last is a favourite theme of the Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, who was president for four years before Mr Putin returned to the office in May.

As he enumerated his promises, Mr Putin even created a word new to the Russian ear. ''We need a whole set of measures to de-offshoreise the economy,'' he said, explaining that officials would be prohibited from having foreign bank accounts and that Russia would be made more attractive to investors.

He struck another note familiar in recent months: resentment of foreigners perceived as telling Russia what to do, saying that anyone who accepted foreign money could not be a politician. ''Russian democracy will not be forced on us from abroad.''

Mr Putin began sounding that theme a year ago, shortly after he announced that he intended to return to the presidency after four years as prime minister. First, he accused a Russian election monitoring group, supported by grants from the US and Europe, of acting on behalf of foreign interests.

Then he accused the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, of calling political opponents out onto the streets of Moscow.

The US Agency for International Development was ordered out of the country as of October 1, accused of meddling in Russia's domestic affairs. And Mr Putin promoted the passage of a law forcing non-profit groups that get grants from abroad to register as foreign agents. His speech reinforced those actions.

The Washington Post