Illarionov praises Pinochet's Chile

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The Associated Press

A top Russian presidential aide hailed Chile's economic reforms under strongman Gen. Augusto Pinochet, and said Russia could follow that model without authoritarian rule.

The author of Chile's much-imitated pension reforms said in Moscow that impoverished Russia must make economic growth a priority if it wants to pursue Chile's path.

"The only way to eliminate poverty in a country and improve the condition of all people is with high economic growth," Jose Pinera, a former labor minister under Pinochet and close ally of the Chilean dictator, told a news conference.

"The influence of the transformations on the Chilean economy and Chilean society were fantastic," said Andrei Illarionov, architect of President-elect Vladimir Putin's long-awaited plan for Russia's economy.

While Putin himself has been vague about his economic plans, his economic advisers support strong market reforms coupled with strict enforcement of financial regulations.

Some observers have drawn parallels between Putin – who is widely popular for his law-and-order image – and Pinochet, whose regime saw harsh crackdowns on political dissent but also dramatic economic growth.