First Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council Andrei Turchak: Good afternoon, Mr President.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Turchak, a parliamentary working group has been established on the initiative of the Defence Ministry, which aims to provide social and legal support to participants in the special military operation and their families. You head this working group. How is this work organised? What can you say about the initial results and specific plans?
Andrei Turchak: Mr President,
Allow me to present to you a new report prepared by the working group on the special military operation, established in accordance with your order in late 2022. The group includes deputies from all parliamentary factions represented in the State Duma, senators, war correspondents, public activists and Defence Ministry representatives.
Over 25,000 appeals have been processed to date, and we address every single one of them. We either process them in a targeted manner or adopt systemic legislative decisions, some of which you have already signed.
For example, executive and administrative proceedings have been suspended with regard to participants in the special military operation, and a ban on freezing their accounts has been introduced. We have passed legislation allocating 10 percent of university places to Heroes of Russia, holders of three Orders of Courage, as well as to children of participants in the special military operation.
Acting on the initiative of the working group, the Central Bank has issued its recommendations on reducing or abolishing commission fee for money transfers or cash withdrawal. In cooperation with the Defence Ministry, we have organised television linkups and videoconferences allowing Russian soldiers to communicate with their families and friends in the regions.
We have submitted a number of draft laws to the State Duma following earlier reports submitted to you.
A draft law has been adopted to extend the status of combat veteran to militia men who have been fighting for Donbass since 2014. A draft law has been adopted in the first reading granting the right to free legal assistance to participants and veterans of the special military operation, as well as members of their families. Amendments to the Labour Code ensured the extension of fixed-term labour contracts at the place of work of a mobilised person or volunteer.
A similar fine-tuning was required under the law on repayment holidays. We proposed extending it to parents and foster parents, and not just to wives and children. In the event of death or severe disability, the loan will be written off in full.
Mr President, I would like to report that all the governors are actively involved in the work of our group. There are no indifferent people here. In order to fulfil the task you have set, we have developed a model programme for the regions to organise vacations for participants in the special military operation so that the fighter can rest and recharge at home. This includes medical examination, visiting theatres, museums, sporting events and many other things with the family.
All regions without exception have introduced support measures for the participants in the special military operation. It is clear that the level differs, depending on the financial capabilities of a particular region. In this regard, Mr President, we propose to establish a single federal standard that includes the minimum necessary set of such support measures and provides additional support for regions with low fiscal capacity that cannot cope with this task on their own. It is necessary to make sure that the family of a fighter is equally protected and equally supported regardless of their region of residence.
Mr President, the working group has identified a number of other issues that require a systemic solution. Please allow me to briefly introduce them today.
The first is the seamless transition between military and civilian medicine. Under the law, the Mandatory Medical Insurance policy is suspended today for the period of military service. As a result, when fighters return to civilian life, on vacation, they cannot receive medical treatment in civilian medical institutions. Often, if an elective operation is required, they have to wait for months for a referral for this elective operation.
As a solution, the working group proposes the restoration of the Mandatory Medical Insurance policy for the duration of the fighter’s vacation. We have discussed this topic with the Healthcare Ministry, with the Defence Ministry and with the Main Military Medical Directorate. There is a general understanding, but this decision must be finally made.
Second proposal. In a number of regions with a yellow level of response, the authorities have recruited citizens for territorial defence and voluntary people's squads. I primarily mean our front-line regions. People really actively join these formations, participate in the protection of bridges and facilities, in patrolling the territory and help the internal affairs bodies in maintaining public order. These regions conduct training, which includes tactical training, providing medical aid and the use of small arms. At the same time, the legal status of these formations is now extremely restricted, and most importantly, they do not have the right to carry and use weapons. We propose that this gap be eliminated at the legislative level.
The third proposal is a military mortgage. Now, soldiers and sergeants who have served under a contract for more than three years have the right to a military mortgage, while the loan for the housing purchased is paid by the state. We suggest that the state removes this restriction of three years for participants in the special military operation and reduces the minimum period for repayment of funds from the current ten years to three or five years.
Fourth. There is a positive moment – today the monetary allowance of the fighters on the front line has almost levelled out.
Vladimir Putin: Not really.
Andrei Turchak: This is exactly what the proposal is about. There are still disproportions in the status of mobilised contractors and volunteers. A mobilised volunteer receives today 195,000 rubles, wherever he is – on the front line or in the rear, while a contract soldier receives such a sum only if he is directly on the front line.
I will give one example. The chief of staff of an army aviation regiment located in one of the front-line regions participates in the performance of tasks in the special military operation by default, as he is the chief of staff. But he receives several times less than a rear serviceman who is behind the tape in the zone of the special military operation.
We propose that targeted legislative work be carried out and the status of all participants in the special military operation be equalised. We would like you to support this proposal.
Vladimir Putin: This is how it should be done.
Andrei Turchak: Thank you very much.
The fifth matter is payments for children. Today, they depend on the average per capita income of a family member over the past 12 months. At the same time, in relation to the families of the mobilised, the payments that they receive from the Defence Ministry are not taken into account as part of such income. In relation to contractors and volunteers, these payments are taken into account. We suggest that combat payments and bonuses are excluded for all when calculating income, so that this is fair.
Mr President, a separate block of our activities is related to improving the legal base of the mobilisation economy. Here we are working closely with the working group of Denis Manturov [Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Industry and Trade].
There are in fact many proposals. Today I want to mention just one of them. Today, independent development of weapons, military and special equipment is associated with a fairly large number of bureaucratic procedures. Military operational requirements and a lot of approvals are needed: from head of the department to deputy defence minister. As a result, numerous developments that are being made today by our enthusiasts, in fact, let us say, in garages (these developments are actually used now in combat conditions at the front line), are overlooked.
We suggest simplifying the requirements for independent creation of weapons. We held a joint meeting with Denis Manturov’s working group and included such proposals in the minutes, and we would like you to support them.
Mr President, the most important condition for our victory is not only material, but also moral support for our fighters. Today many heads of Russia’s regions, paying tribute to our defenders, have established July 1 as Day of Combat Veterans. We propose establishing this commemorative date at the federal level with your executive order.
On all the initiatives that I have presented to you, all parliamentary factions take a common consolidated position. We would like you to support them.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you and everyone who takes an active part in the work of the parliament group to support our fighters and members of their families.
And the question that you raised in the middle of your report should be given special attention and should absolutely ensure equal conditions for all those who are fighting for Russia with arms in their hands. We do not care what category a person belongs to; it is important how he relates to the Motherland – this is a fundamental question. And we must certainly achieve this equality.
We will discuss the rest of the issues separately.