The Russian Teddy Bear

President Dmitry Medvedev has made some sensible comments over the weekend about what he envisions as Russia’s image:

The Russian bear needs to be attractive to be respected by the rest of the world and it cannot become stronger without good foreign relations, President Dmitry Medvedev said on Sunday.

“Our image needs to be comfortable for those who deal with us,” Medvedev said in an interview to NTV television due to be broadcast at 1500 GMT.

“We should not be prickly and hard to approach, but at the same time we should be able to give a firm response when circumstances call for it,” he added, according to a transcript provided by the Kremlin.

Asked whether he felt uncomfortable with Russia’s image of a bear, Medvedev, whose own family name derives from the word “bear” said: “It’s an image close to my heart.”(…)

“If we want to present the right image to the world, we need to resolve our pressing problems, above all our social and economic problems,” Medvedev said.

“We are striving to create a modern, competitive country,” he added. “We can only create such a country if we have normal ties with the world.”