President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, friends,
Greetings to all the United Russia congress participants.
Last time we met was not so long ago, in June, during the first phase of the party congress when the list of the party front-runners and candidates for the upcoming elections was approved.
Over the past weeks, you have been working actively in the regions and the municipalities, on the ground, and communicating with the voters. We are well aware of the importance of such a direct and engaged dialogue. This is the only way to hear what the people have to say, to understand their problems and concerns and to include, accordingly, voters’ proposals and initiatives in the party's election programme. I think you have succeeded in doing so overall. Residents of almost all the regions of the country have actually co-authoured the United Russia party programme, so it can be rightfully called a people’s programme.
The second phase of the congress, which is taking place today, should do more than just adopt this programme. In fact, United Russia is taking upon itself a political and moral obligation to implement the proclaimed plans. This is a big, an enormous responsibility. We have had many discussions on this score, and I want to reiterate my position: it is one thing to write something that is right and important, and to word it beautifully, and it is another thing to implement it. Until now, United Russia has succeeded in doing so.
I understand, and you and I are aware that the ruling political party is responsible for everything and all the country's problems. And this load has always been shifted onto your shoulders. But you have acted responsibly so far, and the programme has turned out to be quite feasible.
New initiatives were advanced the day before and during my meeting with party representatives, its election candidates and the party front-runners. Concrete decisions have been adopted on a number of matters at hand. I will discuss them in depth today and bring up things that I discussed with my colleagues the day before yesterday, and I would like to make additional proposals.
As the current head of the Russian state and as a citizen of Russia, I consider it necessary, as I earlier mentioned, to put forward my own proposals and, on a separate note, touch on the issues that matter if we want to achieve steady and sustainable progress in the country and maintain its sovereignty and the safety of our people.
So, colleagues, the United Russia programme is centered – and I can see it – on people, on improving people’s living standards and the quality of life. One of the priority tasks is taking care of the older generation, of pensioners. There is a whole range of problems that need to be addressed, such as improving healthcare and developing a system of home care services for seniors. United Russia should address these problems on the ground, in the regions, literally on a daily basis.
Now, as we have agreed, as direct assistance, we need to provide a one-time monetary benefit of 10,000 rubles to all pensioners, thereby additionally supporting people who are currently experiencing psychological, financial and other difficulties because of the burden the pandemic has put on them. These people, this group has actually spent the most time at home during the lockdown, and so forth, I will not repeat all this now. I understand that this category of our citizens also incurred a lot of unforeseen expenses such as medicines, PPE and other unplanned purchases. In addition, inflation has gone beyond the target indicators, which was quite predictable of course, but we must take this into account in our practical, daily work.
Let me emphasise: the payment in the amount of 10,000 rubles will be made to all pensioners, those who also have jobs and those who do not, and retired military whose pensions are paid by the Ministry of Defence, the Interior Ministry and other state agencies.
We need to organise the distribution of this benefit as quickly as possible. It is important that the recipients of support should be spared the hassle of obtaining any papers. I ask the Government and deputies from United Russia to make all the necessary technical and regulatory decisions for this.
This is a one-time benefit. Let me stress that next year, we will provide for the indexation of pensions above inflation, exactly as we have been doing it every year, as we agreed a few years ago.
Next, at a meeting with the party leaders, I mentioned a lump sum payment to military service personnel. Here is what I would like to say in this regard. I said at a meeting the day before yesterday that it should average 15,000 rubles. Here is what I would like to add to that: I think in this particular case this “on average” approach should not be used, because this would mean that service members with higher salaries would receive more money, and those who get paid less would receive less. After all, these amounts are calculated based on salary, and someone would receive more than 20 [thousand rubles], and someone else would get even less than 10. What we need to do today, though, is primarily support those with low incomes. So, I am sure that senior officers and military leaders will understand and support me, because the military are like a family, and there is a reason for us having kept the address “comrade” in the army.
Let everyone receive the same amount regardless of the number of stars on their shoulder straps. Pardon me, everyone should be equal in this case, just like in a bathhouse; this is not debatable. By the way, I suggest making this payment to military school cadets and law enforcement officers as well.
Now, with regard to system-wide measures: I want State Duma deputies to include in the budget salary adjustments for service members and law enforcement officers that are also above inflation, and to extend this increased adjustment into 2022 and 2023.
I am aware of a certain disproportion in the salaries of the Defence Ministry service personnel and law enforcement agency employees. Here, of course, decisions must be made to balance out this situation. The Government was issued a corresponding instruction. Should there arise the need for any kind of support at the level of legislators – please note it. I will not go into details now – the Government was instructed accordingly in this regard and is working on it. We will resolve this problem.
I would like to note the following. At present, the unemployment level in Russia stands at around five percent and keeps going down. But all these levels and trends are meaningless to a person who is unable to find a job and feed his family and children. He could not care less; he does not care if we are discussing this issue. Therefore, it is crucial to help and find a solution for everyone who lost their job and cannot find a new one.
There already has been an instruction issued to design a special programme for youth employment support and targeted measures for the regions that are facing a bad unemployment situation, and I ask the United Russia party to get actively involved in implementing these plans.
In addition, a special support programme should be drafted for people with special needs due to health issues. I spoke with my colleagues about that the day before yesterday, too. Conditions must be created so that they can work and have a permanent income. All issues must be considered here – from training and retraining to offering specialised jobs.
Our economy is currently recovering. Thanks to that, we can prioritise extra support to those who need the state’s protection most: children, large families and pensioners. But it is crucial that after the recovery period, which is practically over (I say “practically” because there are some details, however, we are generally on the right track, and, in fact, everything has been done for the recovery), it is important to avoid any pause.
I call the Government’s attention to the fact that we must ensure that the economy has steady, sustainable, high-quality and long-term growth, that people’s incomes go up and new jobs are created. This means we must launch large-scale development projects, use new tools, such as infrastructure loans, step up the implementation of the development programmes for the Far East and the Arctic, and expand the capabilities of basic infrastructure, including the construction of the Moscow – Kazan – Yekaterinburg high-speed motorway with a possible extension – I have already spoken about it – up to Tyumen. The Northern Latitudinal Railway is also among the priorities, as it will boost business activity and the exploration of the immense natural resources of the Arctic, the Urals and Siberia, including the Angara-Yenisei region. And actually, we already have a whole range of instruments and funding sources to launch this work.
I will spend a moment discussing the development of rural areas separately. A strong work ethic, a cost-conscious approach to running business and good care of the land are the qualities that are passed down from generation to generation in farmer families. Today, agriculture is, of course, a flagship, no doubt, a flagship of the domestic economy.
I fully support the party's commitment to focus more on supporting farmers and small businesses in rural areas, including the promotion of farmers’ markets and mobile retail sites across Russia, where farmers can sell their produce without a middleman. Notably, this approach will help bring down food prices as well.
In addition, I support the proposal to renew the moratorium on scheduled inspections of small businesses for next year – a colleague of ours mentioned this the day before yesterday – but, of course, this should apply not only to small and medium-sized farming businesses, but all sectors of the economy as well. In general, I want our colleagues at all levels of government to approach entrepreneurship support as a critical nationwide task.
Speaking about agriculture, the domestic agricultural industry is making steady progress. Importantly, people who work in the farming business and feed the country are entitled to a better quality of life. We need to do everything possible to comprehensively develop rural communities, to build modern infrastructure, roads, social facilities and comfortable housing, as well as to implement gas supply programmes. To reiterate, bringing gas pipelines to the fence, to the property line, should be free for the owners.
I also support the idea that came up at a meeting with the party leaders to make good use of the Russian Post branches, which can be found in almost every rural community. Funds should be set aside to upgrade them, so that they could be used as pickup locations for the delivery of medicines and food, issue certificates and statements from the Unified Portal of Public Services, send the necessary documents to the integrated government service centres, and provide other services that people may need.
Affordable housing is the most important issue for all people in the country. I will say a few words on this issue as well. Modern and comfortable housing is the most important condition for the normal social well-being of citizens. Let me remind you that now the regions are relocating residents from dilapidated housing that was identified as such at the beginning of 2017. Last year, we added 50 billion rubles to this programme, and today, the work is proceeding ahead of schedule. By the end of this year, nine regions of the country will have completed it ahead of schedule.
In this regard, I think that it is necessary to move forward: not only to support those regions that are actively relocating people from dilapidated houses, but also to launch a new programme – I fully agree with the proposal to this effect by United Russia – a programme to relocate residents from dilapidated housing that will be recognised as such as of January 1, 2021. Colleagues, this is over 11 million square metres across the country. And as a first step, I propose allocating 45 billion rubles from the federal budget to this end. This is a very specific issue addressed specifically to you, colleagues, because it is you who will have to make the appropriate decision. I ask United Russia to support this proposal in the 2022 budget and for the planning period of 2023–2024.
In new housing development projects, it is also necessary to provide, of course, all the necessary social infrastructure and to address local improvements and the development of public transport. All this must be done together with the public, responding to their requests by using such a mechanism of civic participation as the ”people's budget,“ when the people themselves determine what needs to be done, what is to be renovated and built in their city. I know that this way of interacting with people is working very well, and I ask the Government to remove unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles in this matter. It is easy to do, no problem, and the quality of work will certainly go up.
We are proud of our doctors, our medical community. We have said this many times in different formats. We are rightfully proud of doctors, paramedics and nurses who work hard, selflessly, without any exaggeration, not sparing themselves in large medical centres, in small towns, and in rural urgent care centres. They provide routine medical care, save people, and fight for their health, including on the front lines in the so-called red zones.
We will be able to overcome the dangerous pandemic only if we join our efforts. In fact, vaccination is the main weapon against the spread of the virus. There is nothing else I can say about this. Importantly, no one should be forced to get a jab. Pressure, where people may lose their jobs, is even less acceptable. People must be convinced of the need to get the vaccine. This must be done persistently and respectfully. Respectfully, mind you. People should be convinced of the need to get vaccinated in order to save their lives and health, and to protect their loved ones. They should be convinced that the vaccine really works and mitigates the risk of complications.
The unprecedented challenge of the pandemic has revealed the strengths and weaknesses of domestic healthcare.
As you may be aware, a decision was made to launch a special programme for putting in place a medical rehabilitation system. It must be modern and accessible, and effectively help people deal with the aftereffects of diseases and injuries. I want United Russia to be instrumental in implementing this programme. As a reminder, we have set aside 100 billion rubles for this purpose, of which 60 billion will be made available within the next three years. The parliament, the Duma of the next convocation, will need to deal with this as well, and I hope that the newly elected United Russia representatives in the Duma will support it in the most energetic manner.
It is crucial to continue to modernise the primary care system on the basis of innovative technology and to ensure higher quality healthcare in all regions of the country, when the focus is on the patients and their health. The level of satisfaction of the people with the quality of medical assistance will serve as the main measure of effectiveness of the regional programmes for upgrading the public health system.
Special attention should go to organising medical care in our many remote and hard-to-reach areas. In this regard, a programme has been developed, which envisages renewing the aircraft fleet, including short-range air ambulances, with domestic aircraft and helicopters.
In total, 340 billion rubles will be allocated to fund this programme. These are massive funds, the money is available, and it will come from the National Wealth Fund among other sources. Under the applicable law, the Government can direct these funds of its own accord, but a significant portion of it comes from the federal budget, and this decision, again, will depend on you after the parliament had been formed. Please take note of this and support these decisions.
Creating a capable aviation group, which can also be used to address another important programme at hand – firefighting – is important in this regard. Wildfires hit many of our regions this year. In this connection, I would like to thank the Emergencies Ministry staff, pilots and fire-fighting units on the ground, as well as the volunteers and residents of towns and rural communities who have fought and continue to fight the elements to this day.
Here is what I would like to emphasise in this regard. We need to learn our lessons and to drastically reinforce the forest protection system. I want the Government to work through this issue in depth. It is important to clearly determine the authority of different levels of government in this sphere, and to provide for regulations governing the mechanisms so that the Emergencies Ministry and other departments can provide timely assistance to the regions in the event of an emergency. In order to boost the regions’ capabilities to protect forests and fight fires, we will allocate an additional 24 billion rubles to this end. This will mean 100-percent compliance with the federal undertaking to pay subventions to the regions, but, in practice, this will translate into a twofold increase in funding for these purposes.
There is only one week left before the new school year begins. The schoolchildren are getting ready to go back to school or start school in the first grade. As you may be aware, families with schoolchildren are being provided with a one-time payment of 10,000 rubles. Most families have already received it.
At the same time, people are openly talking about the following problem. A colleague of ours raised this issue at a meeting the day before yesterday, and by the way, I am very grateful to her for bringing it to our attention. The problem is that the banks are writing off social support funds provided by the state to pay off debts. I can say right away that this is absolutely unacceptable, because these are allocations for children and family support, as well as for people facing hardship, without exaggeration.
By the way, presidential executive orders provide for the protection of targeted lump sum payments from automatic write-offs by financial organisations. However, this is not adequately regulated by the law, banking practice or regulatory framework. This must be done without delay as soon as the State Duma has been formed. You raised this issue, and I am sure United Russia will support it. And I also want the heads of banking organisations to unconditionally comply with the requirements of the presidential executive orders, which fill in the gaps in the legislation before the corresponding law gets adopted.
So, I suggest enshrining in the legislation a requirement to make writing off social benefits and allowances for enforcement proceedings illegal. In addition, as I mentioned at our meeting the day before yesterday, this must be done, as they say, retroactively. That is, social support funds that have been withdrawn from individual accounts must be returned; this is their money by law. Taking into account the banks' net profit, it should not be a problem for them to do so.
Obviously, a lump sum benefit for the new school year is a one-time measure. It matters for us to further build up a comprehensive system of supporting families with children so that the system should have a single logic and people would understand it, so that parents and families with children should be confident that they can rely on the state’s help, on our help, colleagues, in a difficult situation.
You are aware that we have already expanded the maternity capital programme and increased its amount, introduced benefits for pregnant women and monthly benefit payments for children under seven, and for single-parent families with children up to the age of 16. The task for the coming years is to expand the range for families in need to be able to get regular support from the child’s birth to school graduation. I ask the United Russia party and all the factions in the future parliament to support such decisions.
I often hear people say that we need a national idea, an image of the future, everybody speaks about that. You know, friends, I avoid high words, but I think that a solid good family with two, three, four or more children should become the future of Russia. There is nothing to invent here.
Children, parental love and generation solidarity are all unquestionable values for all traditions and cultures of our multiethnic and multi-religious nation. For Russia to have more children, people and families obviously need prosperity, good jobs, affordable housing, education, healthcare and reliable social guarantees, and – what’s very important – they need confidence in tomorrow, confidence that the security of our country and the safety of our children and our citizens will be properly protected against any threats, that Russia will keep progressing in a stable and consistent way, and the results we our achievements will be multiplied and never wasted.
You know about how complicated and alarming the situation in Afghanistan is today. We are closely monitoring the developments and actively interacting with our CSTO allies. Obviously, we are not going to interfere in Afghanistan’s internal affairs, and we are even less likely to engage our army in an all-against-all conflict, which I think is unfolding there, a conflict that has been ongoing in that country for several decades.
The USSR had its experience in that country. We have learned the right lessons. I can say that we have effective capabilities to ensure our security and, first of all, to reliably safeguard Russia and our citizens from the threat of international terrorism. Regrettably, this threat persists, we must be aware of it and exert maximum responsibility about it.
Some may think that such threats are a thing of the past, that they happened a long time ago and not in our country. Let me remind you: it happened not so long ago, and it happened exactly in our country. In fact, we fought a war against large gangs of international terrorists in the North Caucasus, and had we not destroyed them, had we not given them a united pushback, had not residents of Daghestan, Chechnya and other republics risen to fight that evil, the horrors that Afghanistan is going through today would have continued on our soil, too.
Russia is practically the only country that managed to destroy large terrorist units and eliminate underground terrorists. Our great appreciation goes to the men who did it, including those who paid for it with their lives.
However, let me reiterate: there is a danger that terrorists and different kinds of groups that found a refuge in Afghanistan will use the chaos left behind in that country by our Western colleagues and will try to launch a direct escalation in adjoining countries. And this will pose an immediate threat to our country and our allies, as well as a possible surge in drug trafficking and escalating illegal migration. They are all threats for us, and they are absolutely real.
In this situation all of us – Russian society and citizens – must become ever more united. Well-coordinated actions by all government bodies are of the utmost importance. I ask the Government, the Foreign Ministry and law enforcement agencies together with parliament deputies to work harder on all key issues of ensuring the security of our country and its citizens.
To reiterate, I am grateful to every political party that has so far been represented in the State Duma for their patriotic position. United Russia is playing a consolidating and uniting role in this regard.
Importantly, reliable protection of our country against threats and challenges and its safe and steady movement forward directly depend on the quality of the State Duma’s work. This is not an overstatement. It is how things are. It is playing the key part in providing legislative and financial support for the country's defence capability and addressing other tasks that are critically important for us.
In this regard, I would like to bring up our most recent experiences. It was necessary to promptly make very important decisions to support people, families, families with children, as well as to support the economy. The State Duma and its parties worked beyond all praise. Thank you very much. I am now addressing the deputies of the previous convocation. People went to work defying danger. Many got sick, we lost people, and some deputies have died. This kind of responsible approach to work will be in high demand in the future as well.
This is why competent, responsible and experienced people should work in the parliament. The continuity of the legislative work must be preserved. It is likewise important to have parliamentarians with innovative ideas and approaches engage in the work as well. It is critically important since the new generation must come to the fore, assert itself and get supported.
It is gratifying to know that United Russia is being renewed. Its candidates to the State Duma and other government bodies are caring and energetic people who, by their work and action, have earned respect and recognition. Among them are our heroes – medical doctors and teachers, as well as volunteers, who have proved their ability to work in the most challenging environment. You can be relied on, and I count on you a lot, this is important.
United Russia is going to the elections on order to continue to implement the national development agenda which is, primarily, about protecting the people of Russia and creating opportunities for self-realisation and development of each individual and his or her safe and decent life.
Our common duty is to reliably protect Russia's sovereignty and to unite society in order to achieve constructive goals, as well as to respond to formidable challenges and move forward with confidence.
I wish you every success and look forward to our continued joint work for the benefit of our people and prosperity of our beloved Motherland.
We are all together for Russia!
Thank you very much. I wish you every success. All the best.