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Putin's State of the Union

Discussion in 'News & Current Events (Articles Required)' started by Milla, Apr 27, 2005.

  1. Milla

    Milla Well-Known Member

    Eastern Orthodox
    I'm not sure if anyone else will find this interesting, but I certainly did. This is the BBC's English translation of the address VVP gave on 25 April:

    The following is the text of address. Subheadings have been inserted

    [Putin] Esteemed Federal Assembly, esteemed citizens of Russia, a number of
    fundamental ideological and political issues will be raised in my message
    for 2005. I believe that this discussion is necessary at the current stage
    of Russia's development. The most topical socioeconomic tasks, including
    specific nationwide projects, were identified in my last message. I intend
    to develop them in the budget message and a number of other documents. At
    the same time I would ask you to regard the previous and current messages
    as a single action programme and our joint programme for the next decade.

    Freedom and democracy

    I regard the development of Russia as a free and democratic state as our
    main political and ideological task. We utter these words quite often.
    However, in practical terms, the profound meaning of the value of freedom
    and democracy, justice and legality is shown quite rarely in our everyday
    life. But such analysis is needed. Increasingly often the objectively
    complex processes under way in Russia are the subject of intense
    ideological discussions which bear precisely on the topics of freedom and

    Sometimes we hear the opinion that since the Russian people has been silent
    for ages, it does not know or need freedom and for this reason our citizens
    are said to need constant supervision from above. I would like to return
    those who think so to reality, to the real world.

    Collapse of Soviet Union a catastrophe

    Let me remind you again of how modern Russian history began. First of all,
    it should be acknowledged, and I have spoken of this before, that the
    collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of
    the century. And for the Russian people, it was a real drama. Tens of
    millions of our citizens and fellow-countrymen found themselves outside the
    Russian Federation.

    Moreover, the epidemic of disintegration spread to Russia itself. Citizens'
    savings lost their value. The old ideals were destroyed. Many institutions
    were disbanded or simply hastily reformed. The country's integrity was
    disturbed by a terrorist intervention and the ensuing capitulation of
    Khasavyurt [Chechen peace deal of mid-1990s brokered by the late Aleksandr
    Lebed and the late Aslan Maskhadov].

    With unrestricted control over information flows, groups of oligarchs
    served exclusively their own corporate interests. Mass poverty started to
    be accepted as the norm. All this evolved against a background of the most
    severe economic recession, unstable finances and paralysis in the social

    It seemed to many at the time that our young democracy was not the
    continuation of Russian statehood, but its final collapse, the prolonged
    death throes of the Soviet system. Those who thought so were mistaken.

    Indeed it was during that period that extremely significant events took
    place in Russia. Not only was the energy of self-preservation in evidence
    in our society, but also a will for a new, free life. During those
    difficult years, the Russian people had to simultaneously defend state
    sovereignty and choose a definite new direction in the development of their
    1,000-year history.

    The most complicated tasks had to be accomplished: preserving our own
    values without the loss of definite achievements, while confirming the
    capacity of Russian democracy to survive. We had to find our own path
    towards building a democratic, free and just society and state.
    We teamed up with Faith Counseling. Can they help you today?
  2. Milla

    Milla Well-Known Member

    Eastern Orthodox
    Seeks free society of free people

    Speaking of justice, I certainly don't mean the infamous system of taking
    everything from people and dividing it up. I mean opening up wide and equal
    development opportunities for everyone, success for everyone, a better life
    for everyone. In the end we must become a free society of free people on
    the basis of implementing these principles. In this connection it would not
    be out of place to recall how the aspiration for freedom and justice has
    shaped Russian society throughout history and how it has matured in the
    public consciousness.

    First of all, Russia has always been and of course will remain the largest
    European nation. For centuries, the ideals of freedom, human rights,
    justice and democracy that were gained through suffering and won by
    European culture, have been a determining value and a guiding principle for
    us. For three centuries, together with other European nations, hand in hand
    with them, we have gone through a process of enlightenment and experienced
    difficulties in setting up parliamentary rule, municipal and judicial power
    and forming similar legal systems. Step by step we have been moving towards
    shaping human rights, towards equal and general suffrage, towards an
    understanding of the need to care for the weak and the indigent, towards
    emancipation of women and other social gains.

    I shall repeat: we have been doing all this together, in some things
    falling behind and in other things going ahead of all-European standards. I
    am convinced that for modern Russia democratic values are no less important
    than striving for economic success and people's social well-being.

    Benefits of free society

    Firstly, only in a free and just society does every law-abiding citizen
    have the right to demand for himself reliable legal guarantees and state
    protection. There is no doubt that ensuring people's rights and freedoms is
    critically important both for economic development and for public and
    political life in Russia. The right to be elected or appointed to a state
    post, as well as the right to access to public services and public
    information must be available equally to all citizens of the country.
    Anyone who breaks the law must know that punishment is inevitable.

    Second, it is only in a free society that every citizen capable of working
    has the right to compete on equal terms, to be free to choose partners for
    themselves and to earn accordingly. The prosperity of every individual
    should be determined by their work and abilities, their qualifications and
    efforts. And they themselves have the right to spend their earnings at
    their own discretion, including bequeathing them to their children.
    Therefore, adherence to the principles of fairness is directly linked to
    equality of opportunity. This should, in turn, be ensured by the state itself.

    Third, the Russian state is [changes tack] - if it wants to be fair, it
    must help citizens who are unable to work and who are poor, the disabled,
    pensioners and orphans, ensuring that such people lead dignified lives and
    that the main benefits are accessible to them. All these functions and
    responsibilities have been directly entrusted to the state by society.

    Finally, a free and just society has no internal boundaries or restrictions
    on movement and it is itself open for the rest of the world. This allows
    our country's citizens to benefit from the riches of all human
    civilization, including achievements in education, science, world history
    and culture.

    Strengthening state system

    It is precisely these values of ours that also determine our desire for an
    increase in the state independence of Russia and the strengthening of its
    sovereignty. We are a free nation and our place in the modern world, I want
    to stress this particularly, will be determined only by the degree of our
    strength and success. [Applause]

    I dwelt in detail on these key general concepts to show how the above
    principles should be reflected in our daily practices. I contend that these
    actions could nominally be implemented in three - in at lease three directions.

    First, measures aimed at the development of the state. Second, the
    strengthening of the law and developing the political system as well as
    improving the efficiency of justice. Third, the development of the
    individual and civil society as a whole.

    First, the state. You know that in the last five years we have had to
    resolve the difficult tasks of preventing the degradation of state and
    public institutions. At the same time, we have had to create a basis for
    development for the years and decades to come. Together we cleared up the
    mess and moved on further. In connection with this, the policy of
    stabilization was, effectively, a policy of response to the problems that
    had accumulated. On the whole, this policy has proved correct. Yet it has
    now exhausted itself. It should now be replaced by a forward-looking policy.

    For this purpose we need an efficient state above all.

    Importance of ending corruption among bureaucrats

    Despite many positive changes, however, this central problem has not been
    resolved in full. Our bureaucracy remains a closed and sometimes simply
    arrogant caste which sees state service as a kind of business. Therefore,
    achieving more efficient state management, strict observance of the law and
    provision of high-quality public services to the population by officials
    remains our priority.

    It's one of the features of the present that certain unscrupulous
    bureaucrats at both federal and local level have learned to use the
    stability that has been achieved for their own selfish ends. They have
    started using the favourable conditions and opportunities that have finally
    emerged in our country to increase their private rather than the public wealth.

    Incidentally, in this sense party and corporate bureaucracies behave no
    better than state bureaucrats. If now, just as the foundations for major
    large-scale work have been created, the state should succumb to the
    temptation of seeking simple solutions, bureaucratic reactionaries will
    have the upper hand. We will get stagnation instead of a breakthrough. The
    potential of civil society will remain untapped and corruption,
    irresponsibility and poor skills will balloon rapidly, taking as back along
    the path of decline of the nation's economic and intellectual potential, an
    ever growing gap between the authorities and the interests of society and
    the state machinery's unwillingness to heed people's needs.

    Let me repeat. The current state of affairs is unsatisfactory. Having
    liberated the largest mass media outlets from censorship by oligarchs, we
    failed to protect them from the unhealthy zeal of certain bosses. Having
    sent the law-enforcement agencies in to combat crime, including tax crime,
    we sometimes encounter crude violations of businessmen's rights and at
    times open racketeering by state structures.

    Many officials believe that this is the way it is going to be and that such
    costs are inevitable. I shall have to disappoint them. Our plans do not
    include handing the country over to inefficient and corrupt bureaucrats. We
    proceed from the understanding that developed democratic procedures are not
    only needed by the country, they are economically profitable. To be engaged
    in a responsible dialogue with society is politically feasible, that is why
    a modern Russian official is obliged to learn how to speak to society not
    in the jargon of command, but in the modern language of cooperation, in the
    language of public interest, dialogue and real democracy. This is our basic
    position and we shall adhere to it.
  3. Milla

    Milla Well-Known Member

    Eastern Orthodox
    Building an effective state within existing borders

    The next most important task in the sphere of state construction is
    strengthening the federation. The main goal we are striving to reach is
    building an effective state within existing borders.

    As you know, we have recently seen a growing desire among certain
    constituent parts of the federation to merge. This is a positive trend but
    it is important to avoid turning it into another political campaign. We
    should remember that constituent parts merge not for the sake of merging,
    but for optimizing governance, for making social and economic policy more
    effective and, in the end, to improve people's well-being.

    Of course, the process of constituent parts' merging is a complicated
    matter. However, in certain cases, I want to emphasize this - not always
    and everywhere, but in certain cases - we shall not be able to concentrate
    state resources to govern a territory which is huge and composed in a
    unique fashion.

    After all, many of our regions have complex jurisidictions. How powers
    should be divided between their state authorities, primarily in matters of
    taxation and budgets, is a problem that arises constantly. But all energies
    are expended on disputes and coordination, and sometimes on resolving
    disputes, including in the Constitutional Court. This is happening at a
    time of new opportunities and the need to implement a whole range of major
    national projects.

    Specific examples of this are well known. The merger of Krasnoyarsk
    Territory with the Taymyr and Evenki Autonomous Areas, currently in
    progress, should help the development of new deposits and the energy supply
    for eastern regions of Siberia. Clear and precise administrative decisions
    should unlock the benefits of large-scale investment in the development of
    Russian regions.

    Statute of limitation, need for government to legislate fast

    I regard the third major task as the pursuit of an active policy of
    liberalization of enterprise. Here I will highlight above all else measures
    for stabilization of the economic process, radical expansion of
    opportunities for free enterprise, and areas of investment.

    Firstly, we need to act to strengthen this economic process. I have already
    said that we should soon reduce to three years the statute of limitations
    for the consequences of invalid and detrimental transactions. At the moment
    the statute of limitations is 10 years. This proposal is already being
    widely debated and I would like to stress once again the motives that
    guided us to make this proposal.

    The inviolability of the right to private property is the basic requirement
    for the conduct of any kind of business. The rules to which the state
    adheres in this field should be clear to all. And, importantly, they should
    be stable. This allows anyone developing their own enterprise properly to
    plan and conduct both their business and their life. It allows citizens
    calmly and without anxiety to conclude contracts in such vital areas as,
    for example, buying a home, or privatizing it. To a large extent this has
    largely already taken place in our country. In general, it motivates people
    to acquire property and to increase production.

    At the same time we must not treat lightly those who have broken the law in
    signing deals. Of course, the state must react to this. But I must note
    that three years is a long period too, sufficient for both the interested
    parties and the state to sort out their relations in court. I would also
    like to stress that the three-year statute of limitation was the longest in
    our legislation in the last 100 years [presumably, before the 10-year rule
    applied]. Ten years is an infinitely and unjustifiably long period, from
    the point of view of common economic and legal consideration. Such a period
    breeds a lot of uncertainty, first of all lulling the state into
    complacency. It lulls into complacency not only the state but also other
    participants in the process.

    Incidentally, the relevant proposal for amendments to legislation has
    already been sent to the Russian government. Unfortunately, there has been
    no reply, although only one word has to be corrected in one article. I am
    asking you to speed up the formal agreement. [applause]

    Need for clear property, investment law

    Second, we must help people legalize in a simplified form the property
    which effectively belongs to them, that is garages, houses, allotments in
    various co-operatives and agricultural associations, and the corresponding
    plots of land. [applause] This legalization must be as simple for people as
    possible, and the filling of forms must not create additional problems for
    them. Incidentally, this will offer extra opportunities such as legal
    inheritance of property and bank loans secured by the property.

    Third, we must boost the inflow of capital built up by people into our
    economy. We must allow citizens to declare in simplified form the capital
    they have accumulated in previous years, in the previous period. This
    practice must be accompanied by only two conditions: 13-per-cent income tax
    must be paid and the appropriate amounts of money must be paid into
    accounts in Russian banks.

    This money should work for the benefit of our economy, in our country, and
    not hang around in offshore zones. [Applause]

    Role of tax authorities not to terrorize business

    I will dwell on another task which I think is fundamental to the
    development of the state. It concerns the work of the tax and customs
    bodies. I believe that checking that tax and customs legislation is being
    implemented should become a priority in their work and not fulfilment of
    plans for collection of taxes and duties. It is obvious that fiscal bodies
    in any country should check whether taxes are being paid correctly, but it
    would also be fair to acknowledge that our tax system has been at the
    formative state in recent years. Time and the rich practice of applying
    legislation and administering justice were needed for clear answers to very
    many questions to emerge.

    Fiscal bodies should not ignore violation of laws - under no circumstance
    should they do that. At the same time, ways of repaying tax debts for past
    years should be found so as to ensure the state's interests without
    destroying the economy and without driving business into a dead end. Fiscal
    bodies have no right to terrorize business by returning to the same old
    problems. They should work smoothly and react in timely manner to
    violations committed while focusing on checking the current period.

    I believe that all the above measures will help stabilize economic
    activities for our citizens, create additional guarantees for the long-term
    development of business and ultimately ensure greater freedom for business
    activity and a fair attitude towards it on the part of the state.

    Backs foreign investment, strategic areas to remain in Russian hands

    Finally, another important issue. Russia is extremely interested in a large
    inflow of private investment, including foreign investment. This is our
    strategic choice and strategic approach. However, in practice, investors
    are sometimes faced with restrictions which can be explained by all sorts
    of notions, including notions of national security.

    Moreover, not all of this is legally formulated. Such ambiguity creates
    problems for the state as well as for investors. It is time for us clearly
    to identify those areas of the economy where the interests of strengthening
    the independence and security of Russia dictate the need for primary
    control by national and state capital. I mean several infrastructure
    establishments, companies which fulfil defence orders and reserves of
    mineral resources which have strategic significance for the future of the
    country, for future generations of Russians, and also infrastructure

    It is necessary to develop and strengthen at the legislative level the
    framework of criteria which define the restrictions for foreign capital
    participating in such spheres of the economy. And at the same time, it is
    necessary absolutely to define a corresponding list of industries or
    establishments which will not be subject to enlargement and will not be
    broadly interpreted. It is this sort of approach which a number of
    countries with developed market economies use today, and we must also use
    it. Maintaining this sort of control and restrictions in a whole series of
    sectors of the economy, we must on the whole create favourable conditions
    for private capital in all attractive industries and I think you will agree
    with me, it must be said directly, that for the moment, unfortunately, too
    little has been done with regard to this.

    I repeat that all these decisions must be established on a legislative
    level. The aim of such measures is clear: Investors do not need riddles and
    charades. Their money will only go where there is stability, and where the
    rules of the game are clear and understandable. And this sort of approach
    will be fair, both with regard to society and the state, which is obliged
    to protect its future interests, thinking about the development of the
    country for the year ahead and for a ten-year-period.

    Russia to interpret democracy for itself

    Respected colleagues, a necessary condition for the development of
    democracy in the country is the creation of an effective legal and
    political system. But this must not be at the expense of law and order, of
    the stability which has been achieved with such difficulty or of the
    steadfast pursuit of economic policy.

    In this I see the independent character of the democratic path we have
    chosen. And so we are going to move forward, taking into account our
    individual domestic situation, but of course operating according to the law
    and the safeguards within the constitution. It goes without saying that the
    authorities themselves must also not abuse their administrative positions.
    They are obliged to find all possible opportunities to strengthen the
    country's real democratic institutions. Depriving one's own people of the
    ability to live according to democratic law shows a lack of respect for
    oneself and one's fellow citizens. It shows a lack of both understanding of
    the past and vision for the future.

    The great Russian philosopher Ivan Ilyin wrote that the power of state has
    its own limits, determined by the very fact that it is a power that suits
    the external life of an individual. However, all the [internal] creative
    states of the soul and spirit, including love, freedom and goodwill, are
    not under the jurisdiction of the state and cannot be dictated by it. The
    state cannot demand the trust, blessing, love, goodness and faith of its
    citizens. It cannot regulate scientific, religious and artistic works. It
    must not meddle in moral, family and everyday life or, unless absolutely
    essential, stifle the people's economic initiative and creativity. Let us
    not forget this.

    Russia is a country that, by the will of its own people, chose democracy
    for itself. It set out on this course itself and, observing all generally
    accepted political norms, will decide for itself how to ensure that the
    principles of freedom and democracy are implemented, taking into account
    its historical, geopolitical and other characteristics. As a sovereign
    country, Russia can and will independently determine the timing and
    conditions of its progress along this path.

    People must respect the law

    However, the consistent development of democracy in Russia is only possible
    by following a legal, legitimate path. The use of any kind of illegal
    method to fight for national, religious or other interests contradicts the
    very principles of democracy. The state will respond severely, but within
    the law.

    And we need the type of law-enforcement agencies in whose work the
    upstanding citizen can take pride, instead of crossing to the other side of
    the street when he sees a man in uniform. Those whose main goal is personal
    gain, rather than upholding the law, have no place in the law-enforcement
    system. So the motivation of people serving in these bodies should be,
    above all else, the quality of the protection of citizens' rights and
    freedoms. And finally, if part of Russian society continues to regard the
    judicial system as corrupt, then it will be simply impossible to speak of
    effective dispensation of justice.

    Need to strengthen law to fight crime, terror

    On the whole I would say that the organization of the fight against crime
    in the country requires radically new approaches. The appropriate decisions
    will be prepared. Stronger law and order is indivisible from the removal of
    the sources of terrorist aggression in Russia. In past years we have taken
    several major steps in the fight against terror. But there can be no
    illusions here. The threat is still very strong. We are still taking very
    painful blows. Criminals are still committing dreadful acts, with the aim
    of intimidating society. And we need to gather our courage to continue this
    work to eradicate terror. The moment we display weakness or spinelessness,
    our losses will be immeasurably greater. And they could become a national

    I expect to see energetic work to bolster security in southern Russia, to
    assert there the values of freedom and justice. The essential conditions
    for this are development of the economy, creation of new jobs, construction
    of the social and industrial infrastructure. I support the holding, as
    early as this year, of parliamentary elections in the Chechen Republic.
    They should become the basis for stability and the development of democracy
    in this region.

    I shall note that even now the North Caucasus region has good conditions in
    place for rapid economic growth. It has one of Russia's most developed
    transport infrastructures and a quality workforce. And polls show that the
    number of people wishing to engage in enterprise here is higher than the
    Russian average.

    At the same time the share of shadow economy and criminalized business
    relations as a whole is much larger here. In this connection power bodies
    must not only strengthen law enforcement and the court system in the
    region, but also motivate people's business activities.

    We should pay no less attention to other strategically important regions of
    the Russian Federation. I mean the Far East, Kaliningrad Region and other
    border territories. Here we need to concentrate state resources to enlarge
    transport, telecommunications and energy infrastructures, building
    transcontinental corridors among other things. These regions must become
    key points in Russia's cooperation with neighbouring states.
  4. Milla

    Milla Well-Known Member

    Eastern Orthodox
    Ties with former Soviet states, rights of Russians abroad

    Esteemed assembly, very soon, on 9 May, we will celebrate the 60th
    anniversary of the great victory. This day can justly be regarded as the
    day civilization triumphed over fascism. The common victory made it
    possible to defend the principles of freedom, independence and equality of
    all individuals and peoples. It's obvious to us that this victory was won
    not only thanks to the might of arms but also thanks to the spiritual
    fortitude of all the people who were united in a union state at the time
    and together against inhumanity, genocide and one nation's claim to lord
    over others.

    Meanwhile, the horrible lessons of the past continue dictating their
    imperatives to us today. Russia, with its ties to former Soviet republics,
    states that are independent today, ties of common destiny, ties through the
    Russian language and a great culture, cannot stand apart from the universal
    aspiration for freedom. Today, when independent states have formed and are
    developing in post-Soviet space, we want to aspire together to meet human
    values, to embrace broad opportunities for personal and collective success
    and to achieve standards of civilization gained through suffering. These
    are the standards that can give us a single economic, humanitarian and
    legal space.

    While defending Russia's foreign political interests we are keen to develop
    the economies and strengthen the international prestige of states which are
    our close neighbours. We are interested in synchronizing the pace and
    parameters of the reform processes in Russia and the Commonwealth states.
    And we are ready to adopt really useful experience of our neighbours as
    well as share with them our ideas and the results of our work.

    Our goals in the international arena are extremely clear. These are
    security of borders and the creation of favourable external conditions for
    resolving Russia's domestic problems. We are not inventing anything new
    here but are striving to use everything that European civilization and
    world history have accumulated. It goes without saying that the Russian
    nation's civilizing mission in the Eurasian continent must continue. Its
    purpose is to ensure that democratic values blended with national interests
    should enrich and strengthen our historical commonality.

    Also, for us the issue of international support in guaranteeing the rights
    of Russian compatriots abroad remains highly important. And this is not a
    subject for political or diplomatic bargaining. [Applause]

    We count on the new members of NATO and the EU in post Soviet space to show
    real respect for human rights, including the rights of national minorities.
    People do not have the right to demand from others that human rights be
    observed if they themselves do not respect and observe or cannot guarantee
    these rights. [Applause]

    We are ready to enter into fruitful partnership with all countries to
    resolve global problems, from a search for an efficient answer to the
    worsening environmental problems to space exploration, from preventing
    global man-made disasters to fighting the spread of AIDS. And of course we
    are ready to pool efforts in the struggle against such challenges to the
    present-day world order as international terrorism, crossborder crime and
    drug trafficking.

    Need for objective information, broadcasting

    A few words about the development of civic society. [Russian statesman]
    Vitte once wrote: the state does not so much create, but rather provides
    for what is missing. It is all citizens who are the true creators.
    Independence should not be hampered but developed in every way and assisted
    - this advice is still topical today.

    I believe that above all else we should enable citizens to have access to
    objective information. This is a crucial political issue, and it is
    directly linked to action within our state policy on the principles of
    freedom and justice. In this respect I have hopes of the draft law on the
    information openness of state bodies which is currently being discussed. It
    is important that it is adopted as soon as possible. Its implementation
    will allow citizens to obtain more objective information about the work of
    the state apparatus and will help them to defend their interests.

    I would like to speak today of a different and quite specific topic - what
    should we do to ensure that national television takes full account of the
    most pressing requirements of Russian civic society and meets its
    interests. We should establish guarantees so that state television and
    radio is as objective as possible, free from the influence of separate
    groups and reflects the entire spectrum of social and political forces in
    the country. [Applause]

    I propose strengthening the powers of the Public Chamber, for public
    supervision of broadcasters' compliance with the principles of free speech.
    [Applause] For this, a commission consisting of people respected by the
    professional community, which will ensure the independence of broadcasting
    policy and attract qualified personnel for the work, may be created within
    the chamber. To this end, I am planning to propose to the State Duma
    appropriate amendments to legislation.

    Apart from this, access to the mass media has to be ensured for all
    parliamentary factions. [Applause]

    I am confident that the proposed measures will raise the quality and
    objectivity of the information that our society currently receives. They
    will intensify cultural life and allow every citizen, even those who live
    in our country's remotest corner, to enjoy access to the achievements in
    which the modern world is so rich.

    Role of political parties in parliament, choice of regional leaders

    And finally, some words about guarantees for the activity of political
    parties in parliament. I believe that every faction should enjoy the
    opportunity, on equal terms, to set out its position on an issue under
    debate; to put forward its own proposals and judgements on key issues of
    the country's development; to have its representatives among those who
    guide the committees and commissions; to seek inclusion into the agenda of
    subjects and issues that interest it. I also believe that we need to
    enshrine in law a procedure for parliamentary investigations [applause].

    Apart from that, for the purpose of the continued strengthening of parties'
    role in the formation of state authorities, I propose that the Russian
    State Council consider ways of clarifying the new procedure for appointing
    the heads of the executive in regions of the federation, so that the
    president might nominate for the post a representative of the party that
    won the regional election [applause].

    Life expectancy, health issues

    Esteemed colleagues, speaking about the fundamental issues of the
    development of the state and of civic society, I cannot ignore a number of
    specific issues that have long required solutions.

    I am deeply convinced that the success of our policy in all spheres of life
    is closely linked to the solution of our most acute demographic problems.
    We cannot reconcile ourselves to the fact that the life expectancy of
    Russian women is nearly 10 years and of men nearly 16 years shorter than in
    western Europe. Many of the current mortality factors can be remedied, and
    without particular expense. In Russia nearly 100 people a day die in road
    accidents. The reasons are well known. And we should implement a whole
    range of measures to overcome this dreadful situation.

    We constantly go back to the situation with public health. Ways to improve
    this area are now actively discussed. Without prejudging the final
    decisions, I am confident that first of all we need to ensure accessible
    high quality medical care and revive the prevention of diseases as a
    tradition of Russian medical schools. [applause]

    I would like to dwell on another subject which is difficult for our society
    - the consequences of alcoholism and drug addiction. Every year in Russia,
    about 40,000 people die from alcohol poisoning alone, caused first of all
    by alcohol substitutes. Mainly they are young men, breadwinners. However,
    this problem cannot be resolved through prohibition. Our work must result
    in the young generation recognizing the need for a healthy life style and
    physical exercises. Each young person must realize that a healthy life
    style means success, his or her personal success.

    However, looking at programmes, budget programmes for the next year, the
    government's investment programmes, I have noticed no desire to tackle the
    problem on the federal level. Of course, in the eyes of the law, these are
    primarily regional and municipal issues. But without adequate support by
    the federal government, we will not be able to resolve this problem. May I
    ask you to make suitable amendments.

    A low birth rate is another nationwide problem. There are increasingly more
    one-child families in the country. We need to improve the image of
    motherhood and fatherhood, and create conditions favourable for raising

    Backs abolition of inheritance tax, "sensible" immigration policy

    Incidentally, I think it would be right to abolish inheritance tax. Because
    multi-billion fortunes are already hidden somewhere off-shore, they are not
    inherited in our country. But sometimes people have to pay so much for a
    little cottage that they cannot afford. [applause]

    I also believe that population growth must be accompanied by a sensible
    strategy on immigration policy. We are interested in attracting a
    qualified, legal workforce. But, in Russia a significant number of
    businessmen benefit from exploiting illegal immigration. The thing is that
    an immigrant with no rights is extremely susceptible to unrestricted
    exploitation. And, also, he becomes more liable to commit crime.

    However, this must not just be a matter of cracking down on illegal
    practices, but also of providing real benefits for the whole of the Russian
    state and society. Ultimately, each legal immigrant must have the
    opportunity to become a Russian citizen.

    We cannot delay solutions to such issues. Measures to establish a climate
    conducive to maternity, to reduce mortality and bring order to immigration
    should be pursued simultaneously. I am sure that our society has the
    resources to complete these tasks, and gradually to stabilize the numerical
    strength of the Russian population [applause].

    Public-sector pay, services

    It is essential also to draw a line under a number of other long-standing
    problems. First of all, this means the pay of teachers, doctors, cultural
    and scientific workers, and servicemen. They should finally enjoy the
    benefits of the country's economic growth. On their shoulders lies the task
    of ensuring that a new generation of Russian citizens grows up healthy and
    educated, maintaining the traditions and spiritual values of their
    forebears. These are the people who set the contemporary standard for the
    development of society, who are involved in the creation of Russia's
    current and future elite. They are the guardians of our country's immensely
    rich cultural and spiritual heritage.

    And for that reason, the quality of these people's labours is a defining
    factor for economic growth. On it depends the kind of country in which we
    will live tomorrow, the level of freedom, justice and democracy it will
    have, and finally whether it will be reliably protected.

    However, the real level of pay in these sectors is still lower than it was
    at the end of the 1980s. The average level of pay in the public sector is
    significantly lower than the national average. Out of 18 unified pay bands,
    12 are below the subsistence minimum. That is, most workers in the public
    sector are at extremely high risk of falling into the poverty trap. And
    such a humiliating situation hampers them from working effectively and

    I believe it essential within three years to raise incomes in the public
    sector by at least half in real terms, and I stress in real terms. That is,
    in the coming years the pay of a public-sector worker should go up at least
    50 per cent faster than the consumer price index [applause].

    I will stress that we are talking about the required minimum below which we
    cannot, must not and have no right to go. This way we will be able to
    ensure that the average wage in the budget-funded sector is similar to the
    average wage in the country. And we must keep in mind the fact that
    responsibility for setting the size of pay and its timely payment rests
    with regional authorities. Interbudgetary relations should be built in such
    a way that constituent parts of the Russian Federation too have the
    opportunity to raise wages in the budgetary sphere ahead of schedule.

    At the same time, we must realize that the problems of the budget-funded
    sector of the economy cannot be resolved by simply raising wages. The need
    became apparent long ago for such financial solutions and mechanisms which
    can motivate the social sphere itself towards achieving efficient results.
    Therefore, financial policy should become one of the stimuli for increasing
    the availability and improving the quality of public services.

    Finally, conditions should be created to attract investment from other,
    nonstate, sources into health care, education, science and culture. I will
    emphasize also that the tasks of modernizing education and health care
    described in the previous message should be resolved in a very cautious
    manner. [Applause] Reorganization for its own sake must not become a
    purpose in itself. [Applause] The quality of services and, I stress again,
    their availability to the overwhelming majority of citizens and real
    influence on the socioeconomic processes in the country are the main thing.

    Moral standards

    Speaking about our system of values, I'll touch upon yet another topic
    which I believe is important. I would like to speak about public morality
    and culture. We know that good business reputation has always been a
    reliable guarantee in striking deals while integrity of character has
    always been a necessary precondition for participation in the life of
    society and the state.
  5. Milla

    Milla Well-Known Member

    Eastern Orthodox
    Russian society has condemned immorality, and unworthy behaviour has always been publicly denounced.

    In Russia, law and ethics, politics and morality have been traditionally
    seen as close and corresponding concepts. In any case, the connection
    between them has been a declared ideal and objective.

    Despite all the drawbacks, in Tsarist Russia and in Soviet times moral
    standards were a significant yardstick and criterion for judging people's
    reputation, both at work and in public life, and in private life. And it
    can hardly be denied that values such as firm friendship, helping one
    another, trust, and counting on your comrades have, over a number of
    centuries, remained enduring and unshakeable values on Russian territory.

    The famous Russian state law theoretician, Professor Petrozhitsksiy, noted
    that the obligation to help those in need, and scrupulously to pay workers
    the agreed wage are, in the first place, ethical standards. I would like to
    note that this was written in 1910.

    I think that without observing the moral standards commonly accepted in
    civilized society, today's business community in Russia cannot hope to be
    seen as respectable. It will hardly be respected not only elsewhere in the
    world, but much more importantly, within our own country. Indeed, many of
    the difficulties facing the Russian economy and politics in this country
    today have their roots in this very lack of trust in the wealthy class on
    the part of the overwhelming majority of people in society.

    It should also be noted that bureaucratic corruption and the rise of crime
    are also among the results of the lack of trust and moral strength in our
    society. Russia will only flourish when the success of every person depends
    not only on the level of his prosperity, but on his integrity and his culture.

    Tribute to victory in World War II

    Respected citizens, respected federal assembly, our country is on the verge
    of the anniversary of a great victory.

    It was achieved at enormous cost. At enormous, incalculable cost. The
    soldiers of the Great Patriotic [War] are rightfully called the soldiers of
    liberty. They brought to the world deliverance from an inhuman and hateful
    ideology and tyranny. They upheld our country's sovereignty, and protected
    its independence [applause]. We shall always remember this. Our people
    fought against slavery, for the right to live on their own land, for the
    right to speak their native tongue, to have their own statehood, culture
    and traditions. They fought for justice and for liberty. They upheld the
    right to independent development. Back then, they gave our country a future.

    What kind of future depends on the present-day generations, on us.

    Thank you for your attention [prolonged applause].
  6. InnerPhyre

    InnerPhyre Well-Known Member

    Eastern Orthodox
    *Waits for the screams of "Oh Noes!!!!!!1111 Putin wants the USSR BACK" *
  7. Milla

    Milla Well-Known Member

    Eastern Orthodox