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Russian leader Vladimir Putin has warned that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is deepening economic inequality worldwide, and bringing about conditions that could send the world spiralling into a “dark anti-Utopia.”
Speaking via video link to the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, Mr Putin warned that the global situation was as dangerous as it had been in the days before World War II.
“I strongly hope that such ‘hot’ global conflict is impossible now,” he said. “It would mean the end of civilisation ”.
Mr Putin said that the economic depression would give rise to populist leaders who would inevitably cause international conflict.
“There is a real danger that we will face a downturn in global development," he said, "fraught with an all-out fight, attempts to solve contradictions by searching for internal and foreign enemies, and the destruction of basic traditional values.”
He blamed social media companies and the capitalist economic system for much of the current danger, saying that “the situation may become unpredictable and spin out of control".
He added that the spread of coronavirus was worsening an already dangerous situation, saying “the pandemic has exacerbated the problems and imbalances that have been accumulating".
He warned: “International institutions are weakening, regional conflicts are multiplying and the global security is degrading.”
Mr Putin did say that his new agreement with US president Joe Biden on nuclear weapons, announced on Tuesday, was “a step in the right direction”, but said that nevertheless “controversies are spiralling”.
Turning to the tech billionaires commanding major social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter, he blamed them for a degradation of free speech, saying they sought to “control the society, replace legitimate democratic institutions and usurp an individual's right to decide how to live and what views to express.”
In a veiled swipe at the way that anti-Putin protests had been co-ordinated across Russia by Navally supporters using social media, he said: “Digital giants have been playing an increasingly significant role in wider society. In certain areas they are competing with states.
"Here is the question, how well (do these monopolies) correlate with the public interest?”
Going on to say that social media usage was contributing to a breakdown in society, he added: “We have seen it all in the United States.”
- Vladimir Putin
- World War 3
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