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    Roosevelt Russia's ideological ally - Putin aide

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    A senior aid to the Russian president delivered a speech to commemorate President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the 125th anniversary of his birth, drawing parallels to the Kremlin's domestic policies.

    MOSCOW, February 8 (RIA Novosti) - A senior aid to the Russian president delivered a speech to commemorate President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the 125th anniversary of his birth, drawing parallels to the Kremlin's domestic policies.

    Speaking at a diplomatic academy conference devoted to America's 32nd president, Vladislav Surkov said: "In the 20th century, Roosevelt was our military ally, in the 21st he is our ideological ally."

    Surkov, the Kremlin's 'chief ideologue,' credited Roosevelt with understanding democracy not as "a backdrop for oligarchic-cum-bureaucratic performances," but as people's power.

    "Russia is slowly moving in the right direction," he said.

    Relations between Russia and the United States, countries which hold opposing positions on some key international issues, have soured recently with Washington accusing President Vladimir Putin of clamping down of free speech and political freedoms, and senior U.S. diplomats criticizing Moscow's use of its energy resources.

    Russian analysts argued earlier Thursday that Washington's consistent efforts to redeploy its missile defense system closer to Russia's borders may be an indication the U.S. administration seeks to revive the "Cold War" against Moscow and its allies.

    Defending the Kremlin's stance in domestic policies, Surkov drew a parallel between Putin and Roosevelt, and between Roosevelt-era America and modern Russia.

    "Like Roosevelt during his presidency, Putin has to consolidate administrative control and use presidential power to the maximum to overcome the crisis," he said.

    "In the first three years of the 'Great Depression,' per capita incomes in America nearly halved. In Russia in the 1990s, about 50% of population called themselves poor," the Kremlin official said.

    Roosevelt, the only U.S. president who served four terms in office, is credited in his country for the New Deal initiative to provide relief for the unemployed, successful reforms, and for rebuilding the economy in the 1930s. He also introduced procedures to regulate Wall Street financial activities.

    Surkov said Roosevelt managed to stop his country "from sliding into Communism", and advanced democracy.

    Apparently drawing a further parallel to Putin, Surkov said: "Although he [Roosevelt] loved to set up various bodies and was known to have advocated state intervention in the economy and the welfare system, he knew where that intervention must stop."

    "I would say he is still more popular in Russia than his counterpart Benjamin [Franklin] depicted on banknotes," Surkov said referring the one-hundred-dollar bill.

    Hailing Roosevelt's role in WWII and establishing the United Nations, and in an apparent reference to Washington's "unilateralism" in foreign policy, Surkov recalled his phrase that "the future world will be a shabby and dangerous place to live in - yes, even for Americans to live in - if it is ruled by force in the hands of a few."

    He then said that Roosevelt "and his America" were among the people and societies that inspired Russia.

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