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    MIKHAIL GORBACHEV FOR RUSSIA'S SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZE BUSINESS

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    MOSCOW, February 4. /RIA Novosti correspondent Yelena Fedorova/ -- Ex-president of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev called for protecting Russian small and medium-size business from bureaucracy's arbitrariness. This is "the most important" of what it is necessary to do in the country, he stated on Wednesday at the German-Russian forum in Moscow devoted to small and medium-size entrepreneurship.

    The initiator of the Soviet perestroika of the late 1980s views formation of the middle class as a way to stability in the country, and development of small and medium-size business - as the key to formation of the middle class. Gorbachev stressed that the contribution of small business to Russia's economic growth has been rather small so far: while small business accounts for 50-70 per cent of GDP in the developed countries, in Russia, and even in the rapidly developing Moscow this figure does not exceed 25 per cent.

    The former Soviet leader cited the data of sociological polls, according to which 48 per cent of Russia's inhabitants qualify themselves as the middle class, as a positive factor. But, proceeding from objective criteria, not more than 20 per cent of the country's population can be qualified as the middle class, Mikhail Gorbachev said.

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