(AFP) -- President Dmitry Medvedev warned Thursday that a global economic depression could last for several years and require Russia to step up efforts to improve its competitiveness.
"We really are facing difficult times," Medvedev said in his last address to the nation before March presidential elections in which he will be ceding his place to his predecessor and mentor Vladimir Putin.
"The global economic depression could last several years, while competition for the minds, the ideas, the resources -- it will only get stiffer, and we are in the epicentre of this race.
"But even in these most difficult times, we have no right to stop our development. This work will require perseverance, effort and, of course, time."
Both Putin and Medvedev have taken credit for helping Russia survive the worst of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis and insisted that only their team will be able to deal with current economic challenges.
Medvedev noted that "many politicians, heads of international organisations and leading economists and businessmen" have all warned of the onset of a global economic depression in the months to come.
"It is obvious that difficult times await us all," Medvedev stressed.
"I have already said that our country honourably survived the test of crisis. The current team passed this test.
"I hope that we will cope with the new challenges, whoever becomes Russian president or whoever heads the federal government," he added in reference to the premiership post he has been promised by Putin under his presidency.