MOSCOW, November 12 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev started making his annual address to the Russian Federal Assembly (parliament) on November 12 at noon Moscow time (9:00 GMT).
This will be Medvedev's second state-of-the-nation address since taking office in May 2008.
The Kremlin said 387 journalists have been accredited for Medvedev's address, including 114 from Britain, Germany, Italy, China, the U.S., Japan and Belarus.
He offered an outline of his upcoming address in an article entitled Russia Onward! published on the president's website September 10.
In his article, the Russian president highlighted economic backwardness and corruption as the key reasons for the country's problems, and urged the nation to unite in tackling them.
He also pointed to pervasive alcoholism, the ongoing population decline, the high road fatality rate, poor healthcare, environmental problems, and almost daily militant attacks in Russia's North Caucasus regions.
He acknowledged that the state's excessive control over the economy and other spheres of life has nurtured corruption, but also blamed business leaders seeking access to financial flows and ownership of property instead of encouraging a talented workforce and renovating enterprises.
He pledged changes, but not at the expense of millions of lives, as was the case in the reforms undertaken by Tsar Peter the Great and Bolsheviks.
Medvedev's article had a big impact, with about 16,000 comments and proposals from individuals, groups and organizations sent in to the president's website.
Some of the comments were rather critical.
Thus, jailed Yukos founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky dismissed Medvedev's modernization program as a farce and an attempt to preserve what he labeled 'tandemocracy.'
The phrase is a reference to the Medvedev-[Vladimir] Putin ruling tandem that was established after Medvedev was inaugurated in May 2008. Medvedev made Putin, his predecessor in the post, prime minister the following day.
In an article entitled Modernization: Generation M, published in Russia's business daily Vedomosti on October 21, Khodorkovsky took issue with Medvedev's article, saying it sought to justify "the possibility of modernizing Russia without dismantling its authoritarian system."
The jailed oligarch said real modernization cannot be implemented "at the top" but requires a dedicated social group, free from the influence of corrupt bureaucracy and self-serving business interests. Khodorkovsky claimed the charges against him were political and revenge for his funding of the country's opposition.