Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly
The President of Russia delivered the Address to the Federal Assembly. The ceremony took place at the Manezh Central Exhibition Hall.
April 21, 2021
The¬†ceremony was attended by¬†the¬†senators of¬†the¬†Russian Federation, State Duma deputies, members of¬†the¬†Government, the¬†heads of¬†the¬†Constitutional and¬†Supreme courts, regional governors, speakers of¬†regional legislatures, the¬†heads of¬†traditional religious denominations and¬†public activists.
* * *
President of¬†Russia Vladimir Putin: Members of¬†the¬†Federation Council, State Duma deputies,
Today's Presidential Address to¬†the¬†Federal Assembly will be dedicated mostly to¬†internal issues. These include, naturally, healthcare, social policy and¬†the¬†economy. Of¬†course, I¬†will say a¬†few words about external affairs and¬†literally a¬†few words about security issues.
It stands to¬†reason that I¬†will begin with last year's events, when our country and, actually, the¬†entire world faced a¬†new, previously unknown and¬†extremely dangerous infection.
It that period, including during our meetings with experts and¬†conversations with the¬†leaders of¬†many states, I¬†often heard the¬†following description of¬†the¬†situation: we are faced with total uncertainty. And¬†this is how it really was.
I¬†could see this from the¬†information I¬†received from the¬†regions. The¬†number of¬†people who contracted the¬†disease and¬†needed to¬†be rushed to¬†hospital kept growing. Actually, all of¬†you are very well aware of¬†this. Many hospitals were filled to¬†capacity and¬†reported that they could run out of¬†oxygen soon, including in¬†intensive care units. Ventilators, protective masks and¬†PPE were actually distributed by¬†the¬†piece. Shops were running out of¬†basic products, such as¬†cereals, butter and¬†sugar, due to¬†increased demand.
The¬†epidemic was on¬†the¬†offensive. But although there was great concern, I¬†personally had no doubt that we would pull through.
Citizens, society and¬†the¬†state acted responsibly and¬†in¬†unison. We rallied, managed to¬†take preventive action, to¬†create conditions that would reduce the¬†risk of¬†infection, and¬†to¬†provide medical personnel and¬†citizens with personal protective equipment. We increased the¬†number of¬†hospital beds for¬†coronavirus patients more than five times over, to¬†280,000 beds.
The¬†brief outline of¬†measures conceals the¬†tremendous and¬†intensive work of¬†millions of¬†people in¬†all regions of¬†the¬†Russian Federation. I¬†would like to¬†cordially thank all of¬†you for¬†this. Everyone worked quickly, efficiently and¬†conscientiously.
At¬†that time and¬†later on, we were analysing the¬†situation practically non-stop. I¬†recall vividly my¬†visit to¬†the¬†hospital in¬†Kommunarka. It was necessary to¬†experience, to¬†see at¬†first hand the¬†danger facing us and¬†to¬†assess the¬†working conditions of¬†medical specialists. They immediately found themselves in¬†the¬†thick of¬†events and¬†fought for¬†every life, while risking their own.
Today, doctors, paramedics, medical nurses and¬†members of¬†ambulance teams are sitting here in¬†this hall. Once again my¬†heartfelt thanks to¬†you and¬†your colleagues from all the¬†Russian regions.
Russian researchers made a¬†real breakthrough, and¬†Russia now has three reliable coronavirus vaccines. These and¬†many other achievements of¬†the¬†past few years highlight the¬†country's growing science and¬†technological potential.
I¬†would like to¬†thank everyone, every person who contributed to¬†the¬†fight against infection, including the¬†workers at¬†the¬†plants manufacturing medications, medical equipment, personal protective equipment, and¬†enterprises working 24 hours a¬†day, housing and¬†utility agencies, trade companies, the¬†Russian business community that quickly converted entire sectors so that they could manufacture essential goods, civilian and¬†military builders, agriculture workers who gathered a¬†record-breaking harvest, one of¬†the¬†biggest in¬†the¬†country's history, that is, over 130 million tonnes.
The¬†personnel of¬†law enforcement agencies and¬†the¬†special services continued to¬†carry out their duty, and¬†the¬†Russian Armed Forces reliably ensured our country's security.
I¬†would like to¬†underscore the¬†selfless behaviour of¬†people working for¬†social services, orphanages, boarding schools, retirement homes and¬†hospices who stayed and¬†who continue to¬†stay with their charges. You will certainly agree with me that, while analysing developments at¬†these institutions, one feels proud of¬†people who are carrying out their duty there in¬†such a¬†responsible manner. It could move you to¬†tears. I¬†would like to¬†thank them once again.
I¬†would also like to¬†convey my¬†sincere gratitude to¬†school teachers and¬†the¬†lecturers at¬†universities and¬†other education institutions. You did everything possible to¬†enable your students and¬†pupils to¬†gain knowledge and¬†successfully pass their exams, with the¬†involvement and¬†support of¬†their parents.
Russia's cultural life continued unabated. Theatres, museums and¬†concert halls remained open to¬†audiences online thanks to¬†modern technology. Everyone who works in¬†this crucial sphere rose to¬†the¬†occasion.
Our people showed discipline and¬†managed to¬†observe, let's face it, quite exhausting, but vital precautions. Thus, acting together, we have put up an¬†effective barrier to¬†the¬†pandemic.
The¬†people's solidarity showed in¬†concrete actions, in¬†caring for¬†the¬†loved ones and¬†in¬†willingness to¬†help people in¬†need. Millions became volunteers and¬†engaged in¬†building person-to-person help routes. The¬†nationwide We Are Together campaign brought together people from different walks of¬†life and¬†ages. As¬†always during challenging times, our traditional religions stepped up to¬†provide spiritual support to¬†the¬†society. I¬†see the¬†leaders of¬†our religions here and¬†I¬†would like to¬†bow deeply to¬†you, thank you very much
Throughout history, our people have come out victorious and¬†overcome trials thanks to¬†unity. Today, family, friendship, mutual assistance, graciousness and¬†unity have come to¬†the¬†fore as¬†well.
Spiritual and¬†moral values, which are already being forgotten in¬†some countries, have, on¬†the¬†contrary, made us stronger. And¬†we will always uphold and¬†defend these values.
The¬†pandemic broke out at¬†a¬†time when the¬†aftermath of¬†the¬†demographic shocks of¬†the¬†1940s and¬†1990s converged. We realise that the¬†current demographic situation is an¬†emergency. Unfortunately, this is how things are. We must accept and¬†admit it and¬†do something about it based on¬†our understanding of¬†this situation.
Saving the¬†people of¬†Russia is our top national priority. This priority underlies the¬†stipulations of¬†the¬†updated Constitution concerning the¬†protection of¬†the¬†family, the¬†important role parents play in¬†bringing up their children, strengthening social guarantees, and¬†further developing the¬†economy, education and¬†culture.
Our strategy is to¬†return to¬†sustainable population growth to¬†make sure that the¬†average life expectancy in¬†Russia increases to¬†78 years in¬†2030.
Unfortunately, the¬†statistics show us sad and¬†disappointing numbers. We are even seeing a¬†certain decline. It is clear what is happening because of¬†the¬†pandemic, but we will keep our strategic goals in¬†this critical sphere unchanged.
I¬†fully realise that this is no small feat, the¬†more so as¬†the¬†coronavirus has not yet been completely defeated and¬†remains a¬†direct threat. We see the¬†dramatic developments in¬†many countries where the¬†cases of¬†infection continue to¬†grow. We need to¬†keep in¬†check the¬†defence barriers designed to¬†slow down the¬†spread of¬†the¬†virus along our external borders and¬†within our country.
I¬†would like to¬†address all citizens of¬†Russia once again. Friends, please stay alert. I¬†am asking you to¬†take care of¬†yourselves and¬†your loved ones and¬†to¬†comply with the¬†doctors' and¬†sanitary services' recommendations as¬†closely as¬†possible.
Vaccination is of¬†crucial importance. I¬†would like to¬†ask the¬†Government, the¬†Healthcare Ministry and¬†the¬†heads of¬†the¬†regions to¬†monitor this process on¬†a¬†daily basis. The¬†opportunity to¬†take the¬†jab must be available everywhere, so that we achieve the¬†so-called herd immunity by¬†the¬†autumn.
The¬†attainment of¬†this goal depends on¬†everyone, on¬†all our citizens. Please, I¬†am asking all citizens of¬†Russia once again to¬†get vaccinated. This is the¬†only way to¬†stop this deadly epidemic. There is no alternative. The¬†other choice is much worse: to¬†contract the¬†disease with unpredictable consequences.
I¬†would like to¬†say once again that the¬†disease is still with us. But we must start thinking already now about healing the¬†wounds it has inflicted and¬†restoring people's health.
During the¬†peak periods, our hospitals and¬†outpatient clinics had to¬†reduce or¬†even suspend scheduled visits. This increased the¬†risk of¬†the¬†aggravation of¬†chronic illnesses or¬†the¬†risk of¬†missing the¬†first signs of¬†or¬†correctly diagnosing new illnesses.
I¬†would like to¬†ask the¬†Government, the¬†Healthcare Ministry and¬†the¬†constituent entities of¬†the¬†Russian Federation to¬†expand the¬†system of¬†medical check-ups and¬†periodic screenings, taking into account the¬†current epidemiological situation, and¬†to¬†relaunch them in¬†full measure on¬†July¬†1, 2021 for¬†people of¬†all ages. They must involve the¬†largest number of¬†people possible. This is why we will increase the¬†supply of¬†mobile medical diagnostic systems to¬†the¬†regions in¬†the¬†near future.
One of¬†the¬†targets of¬†the¬†coronavirus is the¬†cardiovascular system. These diseases have always been the¬†leading cause of¬†death. Therefore, special attention during periodic screenings must be given to¬†people with cardiovascular diseases. I¬†would like to¬†instruct the¬†Government to¬†take additional measures to¬†prevent the¬†diseases that are the¬†main causes of¬†premature death. As¬†I¬†have already mentioned, these are cardiovascular diseases plus malignant tumours and¬†respiratory system diseases.
Hepatitis C claims many young lives. Decisions must be made to¬†reduce this threat to¬†the¬†health of¬†the¬†nation to¬†a¬†minimum within 10 years.
To¬†ensure that as¬†many people as¬†possible can restore their health at¬†sanatoriums and¬†health resorts, I¬†propose that the¬†20 percent rebate programme for¬†domestic travel is extended at¬†least until the¬†end of¬†the¬†year.
Children's health is our special priority. Indeed, the¬†foundation for¬†good health for¬†many years to¬†come is laid during childhood. Children's rest and¬†recreation activities must be made as¬†affordable as¬†possible. In¬†this regard, this year, I¬†propose reimbursing half of¬†what parents spend on¬†their children's summer camps.
In¬†addition, we need to¬†expand opportunities for¬†student tourism. Already this year, we must launch several pilot projects, including accommodation on¬†university campuses and¬†in¬†dormitories in¬†other regions for¬†students who travel around the¬†country during the¬†summer.
And, of¬†course, we must reward the¬†young people who have done well in¬†academic competitions and¬†in¬†volunteer and¬†creative initiatives as¬†well as¬†the¬†projects operated by¬†the¬†Russia¬†‚Äď Land of¬†Opportunity platform. For¬†them, the¬†partial reimbursement programme for¬†tourist vouchers will remain valid during the¬†holidays, aka the¬†high season. This is a¬†ground-breaking decision.
I¬†wish to¬†thank all the¬†parliamentary groups which supported the¬†decision on¬†the¬†taxation of¬†high incomes, or¬†rather, a¬†portion of¬†high incomes. These proceeds will go to¬†the¬†dedicated Circle of¬†Kindness fund and¬†have already been released to¬†help children affected by¬†rare and¬†serious diseases, to¬†purchase expensive medicines and¬†medical equipment, and¬†to¬†cover the¬†costs of¬†surgeries.
On¬†April¬†28, we will celebrate Ambulance Worker Day which was established as¬†a¬†show of¬†respect to¬†those who arrive first to¬†save lives. These specialists must be provided with all necessary supplies. Within the¬†next three years, we will make another 5,000 new ambulances available to¬†rural communities, urban-type localities and¬†small towns, which will replace the¬†ambulance fleet almost in¬†full.
I¬†want to¬†emphasise that public healthcare authorities in¬†many leading countries¬†‚Äď we are well aware of¬†it and, in¬†fact, they themselves are saying so¬†‚Äď were unable to¬†deal with the¬†challenges of¬†the¬†pandemic as¬†effectively as¬†we did in¬†Russia. At¬†the¬†same time, global health care is on¬†the¬†cusp of¬†a¬†genuine revolution. This must be recognised and¬†clearly seen. We cannot miss it.
The¬†pandemic has exponentially sped up the¬†introduction of¬†telemedicine, artificial intelligence and¬†new approaches in¬†diagnostics, surgery, rehabilitation and¬†the¬†production of¬†medicines everywhere. We must put these technologies at¬†the¬†service of¬†the¬†people of¬†our country.
We must build our healthcare system around this ground-breaking technology, and¬†keep an¬†eye on¬†pressing everyday problems in¬†the¬†process. As¬†we are all aware, they abound, mostly in¬†primary care. There must be no such thing as¬†waiting lines, no hassle making a¬†diagnostics appointment or¬†a¬†specialist doctor appointment, or¬†obtaining prescriptions and¬†sick leaves, for¬†that matter. This has often come up in¬†our discussions lately. The¬†funds have been set side and¬†allocated. It is time to¬†move quickly and¬†efficiently to¬†make it happen.
We have a¬†backlog to¬†deal with in¬†healthcare and¬†other social sectors, including many technical, financial and¬†managerial challenges. However, what people need is qualified and¬†timely medical help. I¬†propose reviewing public healthcare problems from this perspective at¬†an¬†expanded meeting of¬†the¬†State Council some time soon. We will prepare for¬†it and¬†hold it shortly.
I¬†repeat: we have gained some fundamentally new experience in¬†fulfilling our social commitments. During the¬†pandemic, we made direct payments to¬†families bringing up almost 28 million children, and¬†they received their benefits without any unnecessary paperwork or¬†other kinds of¬†red tape¬†‚Äď they got the¬†money they needed and¬†were entitled to¬†automatically. I¬†know Government members have been working on¬†this, focusing deliberately, not without some failures, but they have made every effort to¬†accomplish this task, and¬†coped with it. This is great, this is a¬†good example. This approach should become the¬†norm at¬†all levels of¬†government.
This is the¬†essence of¬†the¬†National Social Initiative, which was discussed at¬†a¬†recent joint meeting of¬†the¬†State Council Presidium and¬†the¬†Agency for¬†Strategic Initiatives.
I¬†am calling on¬†the¬†regional governors: it is your direct responsibility to¬†organise the¬†work of¬†local clinics, daycare nurseries and¬†schools, and¬†employment centres, based on¬†the¬†daily needs of¬†families, of¬†each and¬†every person. In¬†many regions, I¬†have seen with my¬†own eyes that such work has already been launched in¬†certain areas. This needs to¬†be done everywhere and¬†in¬†all social sectors.
As¬†soon as¬†in¬†2022, we must introduce the¬†'social treasury' principles. This means that all federal benefits, pensions and¬†other social payments and¬†services will be provided and¬†paid in¬†a¬†one-stop mode, without having to¬†visit dozens of¬†different agencies, but simply upon marriage, the¬†birth of¬†a¬†child, retirement or¬†other life milestones. Within three years, the¬†vast majority of¬†public and¬†municipal services should be provided to¬†Russian citizens remotely, 24 hours a¬†day, seven days a¬†week, that is, on¬†an¬†ongoing basis.
Separately, we will have to¬†discuss child-support payments, which are a¬†sensitive topic for¬†many families. Unfortunately, this is a¬†problem in¬†our country. This procedure should not be humiliating for¬†anyone. Most issues here need to¬†be resolved remotely and, most importantly, in¬†the¬†interests of¬†the¬†affected party. A¬†mother with a¬†child should not have to¬†camp on¬†the¬†doorstep of¬†various authorities to¬†collect official documents, carrying her baby in¬†her arms, and¬†this is what usually happens. A¬†system of¬†interagency communication needs to¬†be built, with banks included, in¬†such a¬†way as¬†to¬†ensure the¬†unconditional execution of¬†court decisions on¬†the¬†recovery of¬†child-support payments. The¬†state is obliged to¬†protect the¬†rights of¬†the¬†child; this is what we are talking about. I¬†will return to¬†this topic again later.
We understand the¬†heavy toll that the¬†pandemic has taken on¬†people's welfare. Statistics show the¬†aggravating effects of¬†this outbreak on¬†social inequality and¬†poverty. It has been a¬†challenge for¬†all countries around the¬†world¬†‚Äď remember, all countries, not only Russia, are experiencing the¬†same consequences. Certainly, we should be primarily concerned about the¬†situation in¬†our own country.
We are now facing price hikes that are undercutting people's incomes. Some urgent decisions have been made, of¬†course, but we cannot solely rely on¬†targeted and¬†essentially directive measures. We remember potential outcomes. Back in¬†the¬†late 1980s and¬†the¬†1990s in¬†the¬†Soviet Union, they resulted in¬†empty store shelves. But today, even when the¬†pandemic was at¬†its worst, we did not allow the¬†same thing to¬†happen.
The¬†Government's goal is to¬†create conditions that will be long-term and¬†which, I¬†want to¬†stress this part, colleagues, can, thanks to¬†market mechanisms (which we have), guarantee the¬†predictability of¬†prices and¬†quality replenishment of¬†the¬†domestic market. Nobody is saying that we will be setting prices from the¬†top. There's no need to¬†muddy the¬†waters and¬†scare people. There are market regulatory mechanisms and¬†they must be employed¬†‚Äď promptly and¬†to¬†the¬†extent required and¬†appropriate to¬†a¬†specific situation in¬†the¬†economy and¬†social sphere. We need to¬†stimulate investment activity by¬†reducing business risks. The¬†two are not mutually exclusive.
Surely, the¬†main goal right now is to¬†ensure that people's real incomes grow¬†‚Äď that is, to¬†restore them and¬†secure their further growth. As¬†I¬†said, we need tangible changes in¬†our fight against poverty.
Before anything else, the¬†Government must provide direct support to¬†families with children who are experiencing hardships. This has been our consistent policy and¬†we will continue to¬†pursue it.
We already have a¬†system of¬†benefits paid to¬†parents of¬†one or¬†two children from the¬†time the¬†children are born and¬†until they reach the¬†age of¬†three. Families with incomes below two subsistence minimums per family member are entitled to¬†such benefits. The¬†average monthly amount paid across the¬†country is 11,300 rubles per child. Seventy-eight Russian regions pay benefits for¬†the¬†third child, also 11,300 rubles on¬†average.
Please note that we are making consistent progress in¬†this area, step by¬†step. Last year, we introduced benefits for¬†children aged three to¬†seven. They range from 5,650 to¬†11,300 rubles per month depending on¬†the¬†region.
I¬†instruct the¬†Government to¬†develop, by¬†July¬†1, a¬†comprehensive system of¬†support for¬†families with children. Our goal is to¬†minimise the¬†risk of¬†poverty for¬†such families.
But a¬†number of¬†new decisions need to¬†be taken immediately, already today. It is always difficult for¬†a¬†single parent to¬†raise a¬†child. There are plenty of¬†reasons for¬†that. And¬†this is not about the¬†reasons but about supporting children. It is particularly difficult when a¬†single-parent family is having financial problems, especially when children start going to¬†school and¬†family expenses objectively rise.
In¬†particular, we must support single-parent families, where a¬†mother or¬†a¬†father is bringing up a¬†child alone, and¬†only one of¬†the¬†parents is registered on¬†the¬†birth certificate¬†‚Äď sorry to¬†be speaking of¬†such mundane things, but this is a¬†fact of¬†life¬†‚Äď or¬†the¬†parents have divorced and¬†one of¬†them has the¬†right to¬†child-support payments. Therefore, as¬†of¬†July¬†1 this year, all children in¬†such families aged between 8 and¬†16, inclusively, will receive a¬†benefit. The¬†national average of¬†such benefit will be 5,650 rubles.
Of¬†course, we must also help women who are expecting a¬†baby and¬†who have financial problems. It is extremely important for¬†a¬†mother-to-be to¬†get support from the¬†state and¬†society, so that they can keep their pregnancy and¬†know that they will receive help in¬†raising and¬†bringing up their child.
I¬†propose approving a¬†monthly subsidy for¬†women who register at¬†a¬†maternity centre during early pregnancy and¬†who have financial problems. The¬†average subsidy for¬†them will be 6,350 rubles a¬†month.
Next, the¬†sick pay for¬†taking care of¬†a¬†child who falls ill depends on¬†the¬†employment record, which is correct, on¬†the¬†whole, and¬†fair. However, young women receive much smaller sick leave payments. We have discussed this issue at¬†the¬†State Council, and¬†it has been raised by¬†the¬†United Russia. We need to¬†adopt legal decisions on¬†this matter without delay, so that payments for¬†taking care of¬†a¬†sick child aged up to¬†7 years inclusively are approved at¬†100 percent of¬†the¬†parent's salary as¬†soon as¬†this year.
You understand what this means. The¬†majority of¬†those in¬†this room know that the¬†longer the¬†employment record the¬†larger the¬†sick pay. Women who have a¬†long work record usually receive full sick pay, but they usually do not have children at¬†their age. Those who have children do not receive full pay. We must definitely help those who are expecting a¬†baby.
I¬†would also like to¬†remind you that we have expanded and¬†extended the¬†maternity capital programme up until 2026. This benefit will now be paid already for¬†the¬†first child. We could not afford this before. The¬†maternity capital has been adjusted to¬†inflation and¬†is almost 640,000 rubles
Free hot meals for¬†all primary school children were approved as¬†of¬†January¬†1, 2020, and¬†this measure has become a¬†great help for¬†families.
I¬†would like to¬†point out that all our decisions were designed to¬†support our people. I¬†know that many and¬†very many people have financial problems now. The¬†labour market and¬†real disposable income of¬†the¬†people will be certainly restored, and¬†we will move on. This has not happened yet. Therefore, I¬†suggest approving one more one-off payment for¬†the¬†families that have school children, namely, 10,000 rubles per schoolchild. Moreover, this payment will also be made for¬†the¬†children who will only start school this year. We will transfer the¬†money in¬†mid-August, so that parents can get their children ready for¬†school.
The¬†updated Constitution of¬†Russia includes clauses on¬†demographic development, and¬†protection of¬†the¬†family and¬†childhood. They should be implemented in¬†practice at¬†all levels of¬†government. I¬†propose including a¬†section aimed at¬†supporting young people in¬†each national project.
During the¬†pandemic, many young doctors and¬†nurses, recent graduates as¬†well as¬†residents and¬†students of¬†medical universities worked courageously in¬†the¬†so-called red zones, joining their senior colleagues. In¬†that extraordinary situation, teachers, schoolchildren, college and¬†university students continued to¬†teach and¬†study, to¬†have exams. Young family members supported their parents and¬†older relatives. The¬†youth of¬†Russia proved to¬†be extremely worthy during that period of¬†trials. We can be proud of¬†them.
We will do everything to¬†open up as¬†many life opportunities as¬†possible for¬†the¬†younger generation. Their journey certainly begins at¬†school, and¬†I¬†am sure that school will always be a¬†second home for¬†children; a¬†new home, comfortable and¬†modern.
Under the¬†existing federal programme and¬†with additional resources provided by¬†the¬†VEB Development Bank, we will build at¬†least 1,300 new schools for¬†more than a¬†million children by¬†the¬†end of¬†2024. We will also purchase at¬†least 16,000 school buses over the¬†next four years. All school buses must be modern and¬†safe.
Classroom teachers have been receiving a¬†monthly addition to¬†their salaries since last year. A¬†very necessary and, I¬†am sure, fair decision. I¬†remember how we held discussions on¬†this matter last year.
However, I¬†have received requests, letters from teachers in¬†secondary vocational institutions who say they have been forgotten. This is actually true. Justice must be restored. We have to¬†fix this and¬†establish the¬†same additional payment of¬†5,000 rubles for¬†supervisors of¬†educational groups at¬†technical schools and¬†colleges.
I¬†propose allocating an¬†additional 10 billion rubles in¬†the¬†next two years for¬†major repairs and¬†technical equipment of¬†our pedagogical universities. I¬†ask the¬†Government to¬†pay close attention to¬†up-to-date training of¬†future teachers. The¬†future of¬†Russia largely depends on¬†them.
Furthermore, school teaching teams should be expanded with teaching assistants, mentors and¬†counsellors, whose job will be to¬†organise exciting projects for¬†children at¬†schools.
It is very important that our young people should look to¬†and¬†be inspired by¬†the¬†achievements and¬†victories of¬†our outstanding ancestors and¬†contemporaries, by¬†their love for¬†our Motherland and¬†aspiration to¬†make a¬†personal contribution to¬†its development. Children should have the¬†opportunity to¬†explore the¬†national history and¬†the¬†multinational culture, our achievements in¬†science and¬†technology, literature and¬†art in¬†advanced formats. You know, I¬†still open certain school textbooks occasionally and¬†am surprised at¬†what I¬†see there¬†‚Äď as¬†if what is written there has nothing to¬†do with us at¬†all. Who writes such textbooks? Who approves them? It is unbelievable. They mention everything, the¬†'second front' and¬†a¬†lot of¬†other facts, but not the¬†Battle of¬†Stalingrad¬†‚Äď how is that possible? Amazing! I¬†do not even want to¬†comment.
I¬†propose allocating an¬†additional 24 billion rubles within the¬†next three years to¬†renovate cultural centres, libraries and¬†museums in¬†rural areas and¬†small historical towns. This is another crucial area.
It is important to¬†resume the¬†activities of¬†the¬†Knowledge Society¬†‚Äď we all remember well what it is¬†‚Äď based on¬†a¬†modern digital platform. It seems to¬†have been operational lately, but no one seems to¬†notice it is there, either. Also, in¬†order to¬†support projects in¬†culture, art and¬†creative activities, we will set up a¬†Presidential fund for¬†cultural initiatives. Already this year, we will use its competitive grants to¬†finance over 1,500 creative teams.
A¬†month from now, 11th grade students will be taking exams. Based on¬†the¬†results, most of¬†them, about 60 percent, will enrol in¬†universities and¬†have their tuition covered from the¬†budget. It can be safely stated that practically no country in¬†the¬†world apart from Russia has this kind of¬†broad and¬†free access to¬†higher education.
In¬†the¬†next two years, we will make an¬†additional 45,000 state-funded places available at¬†our universities. At¬†least 70 percent of¬†them will go to¬†the¬†regions which need university graduates.
Starting this year, at¬†least 100 universities in¬†the¬†constituent entities of¬†our Federation will receive grants in¬†the¬†amount of¬†100 million rubles or¬†more for¬†opening student technoparks and¬†business incubators, upgrading academic and¬†laboratory facilities, and¬†running training programmes. All state universities will be eligible for¬†this support, including the¬†ones that train future teachers, medical doctors, transport and¬†culture workers. I¬†am confident that the¬†young generation of¬†Russians, Russian scientists, will make their names known in¬†the¬†meaningful research projects that are yet to¬†come.
This year was declared Science and¬†Technology Year in¬†our country. We realise that science is absolutely key in¬†the¬†modern world. Until 2024, Russia will allocate 1.63 trillion rubles from the¬†federal budget alone for¬†civil, including fundamental, research. But that is not all.
We are about to¬†launch ground-breaking programmes in¬†areas that are critical to¬†our country. They will be given the¬†status of¬†nationwide projects. I¬†would like to¬†discuss some of¬†them separately just to¬†give you a¬†sense.
First, we must have a¬†solid and¬†reliable shield to¬†give us sanitary and¬†biological safety. We now understand what it is about. It is imperative to¬†ensure Russia's independence in¬†the¬†production of¬†the¬†entire range of¬†vaccines and¬†pharmaceutical substances, including medications against infections that are resistant to¬†the¬†current generation of¬†antibiotics. Importantly, this must be achieved with the¬†maximum engagement of¬†Russian-made equipment and¬†domestic components.
In¬†the¬†event of¬†an¬†infection as¬†dangerous as¬†the¬†coronavirus, or, God forbid, even more dangerous, Russia must be prepared to¬†develop its own test systems within four days, precisely four days, and¬†to¬†create an¬†efficacious domestic vaccine and¬†start its mass production as¬†soon as¬†possible. These are the¬†goals that we are setting for¬†ourselves. The¬†timeframe for¬†achieving these goals is 2030. But the¬†sooner we get there, the¬†better.
Second, we need new comprehensive approaches to¬†the¬†development of¬†our energy sector, including new solutions for¬†nuclear generation in¬†the¬†promising areas of¬†hydrogen energy and¬†energy storage.
Third, we must find answers to¬†the¬†climate change challenges, adjust our agriculture, industry, the¬†housing and¬†utilities sector and¬†the¬†entire infrastructure to¬†them, create a¬†carbon utilisation sector, bring down emissions and¬†introduce strict control and¬†monitoring measures.
Over the¬†next 30 years, the¬†cumulative emissions in¬†Russia must be smaller than in¬†the¬†EU. It is an¬†ambitious goal, considering the¬†size of¬†our country and¬†the¬†specific features of¬†its geography, climate and¬†economic structure. However, I¬†have no doubt whatsoever that it is a¬†perfectly realistic goal in¬†light of¬†our research and¬†technological potential.
Our new energy and¬†pharmaceutical sectors and¬†the¬†solution of¬†climate problems must provide a¬†powerful boost to¬†a¬†comprehensive modernisation of¬†all economic sectors and¬†the¬†social sphere. It is a¬†direct path to¬†the¬†creation of¬†modern and¬†well-paid jobs.
The¬†efforts taken by¬†each level of¬†government, business, development institutions and¬†the¬†Russian Academy of¬†Sciences must have in¬†view the¬†main, central task: to¬†improve the¬†quality of¬†life for¬†our people. I¬†would like to¬†point out that our position on¬†environmental protection is a¬†matter of¬†principle in¬†this respect, and¬†it will definitely remain unchanged.
The¬†dangers of¬†the¬†alternative position have been recently exemplified by¬†the¬†events in¬†Norilsk, Usolye-Sibirskoye and¬†several other places. We will certainly help the¬†people who live there, but we must also preclude a¬†repetition of¬†such environmental disasters.
I¬†would like to¬†ask those responsible to¬†accelerate the¬†adoption of¬†a¬†law on¬†the¬†financial responsibility of¬†enterprise owners for¬†clearing up the¬†accumulated pollution and¬†for¬†the¬†reclamation of¬†industrial sites. This is a¬†very simple approach. Here it is: if you have benefited from polluting the¬†environment, clean up after yourself. We must act harshly. Rosprirodnadoz [the¬†Federal Service for¬†Supervision of¬†Natural Resources] and¬†other regulatory authorities must do their jobs.
I¬†would like to¬†add that the¬†"polluter pays" principle must also be employed in¬†full in¬†the¬†waste disposal sector to¬†ensure transition to¬†the¬†so-called closed-loop economy. With this aim in¬†view, we must launch a¬†mechanism of¬†extended producers and¬†importers' responsibility for¬†the¬†management of¬†products and¬†packaging wastes as¬†soon as¬†this year.
I¬†also propose marking environmental payments to¬†the¬†federal budget. I¬†know that experts and¬†financial specialists do not like such special marks, but I¬†see this as¬†a¬†vital sphere of¬†our activity. We can make an¬†exception in¬†this case, and¬†invest these funds in¬†clearing up accumulated pollution and¬†improving the¬†environment.
Also, as¬†I¬†said, the¬†amount of¬†hazardous emissions in¬†Russia's 12 largest industrial centres must be reduced by¬†20 percent by¬†2024. We have already discussed this. Obviously, this goal must be accomplished through a¬†comprehensive modernisation of¬†the¬†industrial sector, the¬†housing and¬†utilities sector, transport and¬†energy.
Moreover, I¬†propose expanding the¬†emission quota system to¬†all Russian cities with major air quality problems and¬†introduce strict liability for¬†non-compliance with environmental regulations. Of¬†course, this requires transparent monitoring.
We will definitely support the¬†efforts of¬†businesses to¬†upgrade their facilities up to¬†current environmental standards. For¬†example, upgrading will begin this year at¬†aluminium plants in¬†Bratsk, Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk and¬†Novokuznetsk based on¬†the¬†state guarantee mechanism. I¬†will later name other cities and¬†towns in¬†other contexts but it does not mean that our work is limited to¬†those areas. They only serve as¬†examples.
Last year, we allocated unprecedented resources for¬†supporting the¬†economy. Among other things, we managed to¬†preserve over 5 million jobs through subsidised loans for¬†wage payments. I¬†want to¬†stress that this programme succeeded but it succeeded precisely because businesses acted responsibly and¬†did everything they could to¬†keep their employees. We could see that.
Unfortunately, it was not possible to¬†prevent layoffs completely. I¬†understand how hard it is for¬†those who lost their jobs. The¬†Government was instructed to¬†ensure that the¬†labour market recovers by¬†the¬†end of¬†the¬†year. Still, this problem must be solved sooner so that people can have a¬†stable income again. The¬†Government will be encouraging entrepreneurial initiatives and¬†stimulate private investments that create new jobs.
As¬†you know, last year, social insurance contributions for¬†small and¬†medium-sized businesses were reduced by¬†half, from 30 to¬†15 percent. This decision will remain in¬†force permanently and¬†is not subject to¬†review.
I¬†instruct the¬†Government to¬†present, within the¬†next month, additional proposals on¬†supporting small and¬†medium-sized businesses, such as¬†tax incentives, accessible loans and¬†expanding product distribution and¬†sales, including to¬†major state-run companies.
As¬†for¬†other decisions in¬†the¬†economic sphere, I¬†would like to¬†mention the¬†following.
First, we have already scrapped many archaic norms and¬†requirements in¬†construction and¬†other fields and¬†discontinued many unnecessary control inspections, but we also need to¬†increase the¬†momentum to¬†achieve substantive, clear and¬†tangible results in¬†improving the¬†business climate. For¬†example, building a¬†turnkey factory in¬†Russia should be faster, more economically efficient and¬†easier than in¬†other regions of¬†the¬†world, including countries with developed economies.
Furthermore, we need to¬†simplify the¬†working conditions for¬†non-commodity exporters. We have certainly been pursuing this policy line for¬†a¬†few years now, but we still need to¬†remove all excessive restrictions in¬†forex control for¬†these exporters. This is one of¬†the¬†problems. The¬†new procedure should start functioning in¬†July. We have discussed this matter more than once. All amendments to¬†the¬†legislation must be adopted as¬†quickly as¬†possible during the¬†spring session.
Secondly, the¬†talent of¬†an¬†entrepreneur is primarily the¬†talent of¬†a¬†creator, an¬†aspiration to¬†change life for¬†the¬†better, to¬†create new jobs. The¬†state will definitely support this attitude.
In¬†the¬†modern world where the¬†market situation sometimes changes almost every day, businesses have to¬†deal with high risks, especially when investing in¬†long-term projects. To¬†address this, we will be adjusting the¬†entire private investment support system. We will evaluate how effective the¬†projects are by¬†the¬†new products, services, and¬†technologies they provide people with and¬†how they improve the¬†potential of¬†Russia and¬†each individual region.
The¬†Special Investment Contract mechanism has already been improved; we have implemented a¬†new instrument¬†‚Äď Investment Protection and¬†Promotion Agreements. We have consolidated development institutions on¬†the¬†basis of¬†VEB. Their job is to¬†reduce the¬†risks for¬†investing private capital, to¬†help in¬†the¬†creation of¬†new markets and¬†investment mechanisms, the¬†same as¬†with the¬†Project Finance Factory mechanism already in¬†place. It is currently supporting more than 40 commercial projects with a¬†total investment of¬†3 trillion rubles.
I¬†am waiting for¬†proposals from the¬†Government on¬†the¬†implementation of¬†the¬†ideas proposed in¬†March at¬†a¬†meeting with Russian businesses. Colleagues, you are well aware of¬†this.
Third, we are making all major decisions concerning the¬†economy through a¬†dialogue with the¬†business community. This is the¬†practice established over many years. Of¬†course, we have the¬†right to¬†expect that the¬†auxiliary financial instruments and¬†support mechanisms will bring the¬†most desired result, which is converting profit into investment and¬†development.
There is an¬†important thing I¬†want to¬†say although it is nothing new to¬†businesses. They know it already. The¬†corporate sector is expected to¬†make a¬†record profit this year, despite all the¬†problems that we are dealing with. Despite these problems, this is the¬†real picture. We will take note of¬†how this profit will be used and, based on¬†the¬†annual results, we may decide to¬†calibrate the¬†tax legislation. I¬†want to¬†see specific proposals from the¬†Government. Off the¬†record, I¬†should note: some withdraw dividends while others invest in¬†the¬†development of¬†their companies and¬†entire industries. We will be encouraging those who invest.
Last year, we substantially increased budget expenditure while managing to¬†maintain the¬†stability of¬†state finances. The¬†Government and¬†the¬†Central Bank must continue to¬†pursue a¬†responsible financial policy. Ensuring macroeconomic stability and¬†containing inflation within set parameters is an¬†extremely important task. I¬†assume that it will definitely be accomplished.
At¬†the¬†same time, thanks to¬†our budget capacity and¬†our reserves, we can allocate more funds to¬†support investment in¬†infrastructure and¬†provide regions with new development instruments. Launching these instruments will require the¬†law to¬†be amended. I¬†expect that all parliamentary parties¬†‚Äď A¬†Just Russia, the¬†Liberal Democratic Party, the¬†Communist Party and¬†United Russia¬†‚Äď will uphold these amendments.
In¬†this regard, I¬†want to¬†thank all constructive public forces in¬†the¬†country for¬†their responsible and¬†patriotic attitude during this difficult epidemic. These are not just meaningless words because it was this attitude and¬†its practical significance that helped all of¬†us preserve the¬†balance and¬†stability of¬†Russia's government and¬†political system. This is always important but it is especially relevant because we are preparing for¬†the¬†elections to¬†the¬†State Duma and¬†other government bodies, considering the¬†extensive work we will have to¬†carry out. I¬†hope that this competitive mindset that unites us in¬†the¬†face of¬†common goals will persist.
The¬†country is developing and¬†moving forward, but this is only taking place when the¬†regions of¬†the¬†Russian Federation are developing. A¬†striving of¬†the¬†heads of¬†constituent entities to¬†make their regions successful and¬†self-sufficient must be and¬†will be encouraged in¬†every way.
We will support those who assume responsibility and¬†launch constructive projects. I¬†am confident that every Russian region has huge potential. To¬†help make positive and¬†productive use of¬†this potential, what must we reduce first of¬†all? The¬†governors know what I¬†am referring to: we must reduce the¬†debt burden. These topics must be thoroughly discussed once again.
I¬†ask the¬†Government to¬†submit by¬†June¬†1 the¬†proposals on¬†ensuring long-term stability of¬†regional and¬†municipal finance and¬†on¬†increasing the¬†regions' self-sufficiency. We will discuss them in¬†summer at¬†a¬†State Council meeting, and¬†we will do so with due regard for¬†the¬†priority decisions about which I¬†will tell you now.
First of¬†all, we must help regions with large commercial debts. Here is what I¬†suggest: the¬†amount of¬†a¬†region's commercial debt that exceeds 25 percent of¬†the¬†given region's own revenues will be replaced with budgetary loans that will mature in¬†2029.
In¬†addition, I¬†propose restructuring the¬†budgetary loans, yes, budgetary loans that were issued to¬†the¬†regions last year for¬†taking measures to¬†combat the¬†pandemic. I¬†believe that this would be fair. I¬†would like to¬†remind everyone that these loans will mature in¬†two months, on¬†July¬†1. I¬†suggest extending them to¬†2029 as¬†well.
I¬†would like to¬†emphasise that the¬†restructuring of¬†accumulated debts should be used as¬†a¬†mechanism of¬†increasing the¬†self-sufficiency of¬†regional economies, especially considering that we will be offering a¬†fundamentally new development tool to¬†our constituent entities. I¬†am referring to¬†the¬†so-called budgetary infrastructure loans with an¬†interest rate of¬†not more than 3 percent per annum and¬†with maturity in¬†15 years. We intend to¬†allocate a¬†total of¬†at¬†least 0.5 trillion rubles, that is, 500 billion rubles of¬†such infrastructure loans by¬†the¬†end of¬†2023.
Regional debt restructuring must be based on¬†the¬†concept of¬†justice, which has always been the¬†case, actually. Some constituent entities have large accumulated commercial debts, while other entities did not take out many loans. The¬†latter may feel neglected in¬†this case. This will not do, and¬†we will not permit this. We will support those who have always pursued and¬†continue to¬†pursue a¬†balanced financial policy. The¬†principle of¬†the¬†distribution of¬†infrastructure loans will be as¬†follows: the¬†fewer debts a¬†region had, the¬†more it will be able to¬†receive in¬†infrastructure loans.
We are one country. All levels of¬†government and¬†business must work to¬†one end. Debt restructuring and¬†an¬†innovative investment resource in¬†the¬†form of¬†infrastructure loans will allow us to¬†expand the¬†planning horizon and¬†to¬†launch new solutions that are tied in¬†with the¬†implementation of¬†national projects, sector-specific strategies and¬†a¬†comprehensive plan for¬†upgrading the¬†backbone infrastructure.
Federal infrastructure loans are a¬†powerful resource, but whether they will help us get ahead or¬†attract private investment hugely depends on¬†what regional management teams do and¬†on¬†their ability to¬†conduct an¬†open and¬†candid dialogue with businesses, investors, and, of¬†course, primarily, individuals.
The¬†infrastructure projects in¬†the¬†regions must be implemented, primarily, in¬†the¬†interests of¬†the¬†people, and¬†serve as¬†investment in¬†the¬†creation of¬†new jobs and¬†in¬†promoting the¬†well-being of¬†millions of¬†Russian households and¬†securing the¬†future of¬†our children. The¬†priorities will be building motorways and¬†bypasses in¬†urban areas, upgrading the¬†housing and¬†utilities sector infrastructure and¬†the¬†public transport system, as¬†well as¬†conducting integrated development of¬†territories and¬†building tourist facilities.
Please note that the¬†infrastructure and¬†budget loans will be fully under the¬†control of¬†the¬†Federal Treasury and¬†will be provided exclusively for¬†specific projects that have been thoroughly analysed by¬†experts at¬†the¬†federal level. While we are at¬†it, I¬†would like to¬†say something to¬†regional leaders and¬†the¬†Government: listen, let's work in¬†a¬†rhythmic and¬†business-like manner. I¬†do not want to¬†use harsh or¬†rude language at¬†this rostrum, but things must be done on¬†time and¬†projects must be prepared, not just pictures shown to¬†the¬†Government. In¬†turn, the¬†Government must quickly process the¬†projects and¬†help the¬†regions deal with things they have problems dealing with. You must help your colleagues, you understand that? Not trash what they have brought to¬†you and¬†say they did a¬†bad job. Some of¬†them are unable to¬†do what you ask of¬†them. Help them, and¬†then things will be on¬†the¬†path forwards.
The¬†scale of¬†the¬†projects may vary, but most importantly, as¬†I¬†said, they must benefit our people and¬†open up new opportunities. For¬†example, in¬†conjunction with our major companies and¬†using the¬†proposed mechanism, the¬†Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area will begin the¬†construction of¬†the¬†Northern Latitudinal Railway. This is the¬†railway that will spur the¬†development of¬†the¬†richest resources of¬†the¬†Arctic. This project has been in¬†the¬†works for¬†a¬†long time now, and¬†it's time to¬†launch it, since we can do so now. For¬†example, as¬†a¬†result, Nizhny Novgorod will be able to¬†continue building the¬†metro and¬†to¬†start renovating the¬†city centre. Chelyabinsk, another city with a¬†million-plus residents, will also have the¬†opportunity to¬†upgrade its transport system through a¬†long-standing metro construction project. I¬†am aware of¬†other similar projects in¬†Krasnoyarsk and¬†other regions.
And, of¬†course, the¬†construction of¬†new facilities must be at¬†a¬†qualitatively higher level. I¬†want the¬†Government to¬†draft a¬†clear step-by-step plan for¬†the¬†end-to-end and¬†widespread use of¬†digital design, and¬†the¬†production and¬†introduction of¬†cutting-edge energy-efficient materials. This is also important if we want to¬†tackle the¬†climate and¬†environmental challenges.
Large-scale infrastructure development sets fundamentally new tasks before the¬†construction industry. In¬†the¬†difficult past year, it worked smoothly and¬†built over 80 million square metres of¬†housing. This is a¬†good result. The¬†more we build, the¬†more affordable housing will there be for¬†Russian families.
Therefore, we have an¬†ambitious goal. We have already discussed it as¬†well and¬†this ambitious goal has not disappeared‚Äď we plan to¬†build 120 million square metres of¬†housing every year. That said, we must certainly envisage a¬†special mechanism for¬†supporting private housing construction.
As¬†for¬†large-scale construction, the¬†DOM.RF development institute will attract financial resources through the¬†placement of¬†bonds. This is a¬†tried and¬†tested mechanism that generally works well. These resources must go to¬†developers as¬†targeted loans.
I¬†would like to¬†emphasise that federal budget subsidies will allow DOM.RF to¬†issue loans to¬†developers at¬†a¬†minimal annual rate of¬†about 3‚Äď4 percent. The¬†construction of¬†residential neighbourhoods in¬†Tula, Tyumen, the¬†Sakhalin Region and¬†Kuzbass will be pilot projects for¬†developing this model.
Improvement of¬†cities and¬†towns and¬†housing construction growth play a¬†major role in¬†the¬†development of¬†the¬†regions. We must take care of¬†the¬†urgent, daily problems of¬†local residents. Quite a¬†few Russian families live in¬†areas connected to¬†gas networks but their homes still have no access to¬†gas for¬†some reason. It seems the¬†pipe is there but there is no gas at¬†home.
I¬†would like to¬†ask the¬†Government to¬†work out, in¬†cooperation with the¬†regions, a¬†clear-cut plan for¬†bringing gas to¬†such households. In¬†this context, I¬†support United Russia's initiative, notably, that people do not have to¬†pay for¬†laying gas pipes directly to¬†the¬†border of¬†their land plots in¬†a¬†residential area.
As¬†I¬†have already said, the¬†Government must analyse all details in¬†cooperation with Gazprom and¬†other companies and¬†agencies that work in¬†this area to¬†prevent any setbacks. Otherwise, I¬†will say something from this rostrum and¬†people will be waiting for¬†it but because you don't put some squiggles or¬†commas in¬†the¬†right place everything will get bogged down again. This is unacceptable, and¬†I¬†will check on¬†it myself, so please pay attention. Mosoblgaz and¬†other companies must understand what they must do, in¬†what timeframe and¬†how much money they have at¬†their disposal.
The¬†goal is certainly more extensive. We must offer every region our solutions on¬†public access to¬†reliable and¬†clean energy sources. This may be electricity, including from renewable sources, or¬†environmentally friendly use of¬†coal, which is also an¬†option in¬†the¬†modern world, pipeline or¬†liquefied gas. I¬†instruct the¬†regional heads to¬†prepare, in¬†coordination with the¬†Government, detailed plans of¬†action and¬†start implementing them next year.
For¬†example, in¬†Kamchatka we must envisage the¬†creation of¬†local gas-receiving infrastructure to¬†ensure reliable long-term gas supplies to¬†the¬†residents and¬†companies of¬†the¬†Kamchatka Territory.
We will not only give fundamentally new development tools to¬†the¬†regions, but will also directly invest federal resources into the¬†settlement of¬†the¬†worst systemic problems, which will have a¬†compound effect on¬†boosting the¬†regions' growth and¬†improving the¬†quality of¬†people's lives.
We will begin with allocations from the¬†National Welfare Fund for¬†building mainline motorways. First of¬†all, we should finance the¬†ongoing construction of¬†the¬†Moscow-Kazan high-speed road and, more than that, extend it all the¬†way to¬†Yekaterinburg, completing this project within three years.
This way, together with the¬†existing Moscow-St Petersburg high-speed road and¬†the¬†Central Ring Road, this will ensure safe high-speed motorway transit across the¬†entire European part of¬†Russia, from the¬†Baltic Sea to¬†the¬†Urals, by¬†2024.
However, it is not enough to¬†simply connect the¬†end-of-line destinations. What good will this do, if it does not change anything about life in¬†villages or¬†small towns but only gives the¬†people there an¬†opportunity to¬†watch high-speed trains and¬†vehicles rush past? The¬†backbone infrastructure must definitely lead to¬†the¬†development of¬†all the¬†territories where it has been built, giving rise to¬†the¬†development of¬†a¬†modern regional network.
The¬†constituent entities will now be able to¬†use infrastructure loans to¬†speed up the¬†implementation of¬†these construction projects. But in¬†their development plans, our colleagues should remember and¬†take into account that the¬†federal and¬†regional mainlines must function as¬†a¬†unified system in¬†the¬†interests of¬†our citizens, businesses and¬†regions. In¬†this way, the¬†infrastructure loans and¬†the¬†resources of¬†the¬†National Welfare Fund will be working for¬†the¬†benefit of¬†all Russian regions.
The¬†same goes for¬†our new national project in¬†the¬†tourist sphere. A¬†programme of¬†easy loans will be launched soon to¬†finance the¬†construction and¬†renovation of¬†hotels and¬†other tourist infrastructure. The¬†interest rate on¬†these loans will be 3‚Äď5 percent as¬†well, and¬†the¬†loans will mature in¬†15 years.
There are many other pilot projects. I¬†will only mention some of¬†them: the¬†development of¬†Sheregesh, the¬†leading mountain ski resort in¬†Kuzbass; the¬†creation of¬†a¬†yachting resort in¬†the¬†Bay of¬†Balaklava in¬†Sevastopol; and¬†the¬†development of¬†the¬†tourist industry on¬†the¬†Altai and¬†in¬†the¬†Kaliningrad Region.
The¬†infrastructure loans project will give a¬†new impetus to¬†entire tourist clusters. In¬†particular, several regions in¬†Central Russia will be able to¬†modernise and¬†expand the¬†Golden Ring route at¬†a¬†fundamentally new level, realising the¬†tourist potential of¬†small towns such as¬†Tarusa, Palekh, Murom, Gorokhovets, Tutayev and¬†Borovsk. Development projects will be launched in¬†the¬†Volga Region cities, the¬†Crimean resorts, the¬†Black Sea and¬†Pacific coast areas, as¬†well as¬†in¬†our resort towns such as¬†Staraya Russa in¬†the¬†Novgorod Region and¬†Kavkazskiye Mineralnye Vody in¬†the¬†Caucasus, including its gem, Kislovodsk.
Russia is a¬†hospitable country that is open to¬†its good friends. You surely remember what happened during the¬†2018 football championships. As¬†soon as¬†the¬†epidemiological situation allows, we will lift the¬†remaining restrictions and¬†millions of¬†tourists from all over the¬†world will come to¬†Russia again. We have a¬†practical task at¬†hand: to¬†ensure that e-visas for¬†travel to¬†Russia are available remotely and¬†without undue formalities within a¬†matter of¬†four days in¬†the¬†majority of¬†countries.
The¬†meaning and¬†purpose of¬†Russia's policy in¬†the¬†international arena¬†‚Äď I¬†will just say a¬†few words about this to¬†conclude my¬†address¬†‚Äď is to¬†ensure peace and¬†security for¬†the¬†well-being of¬†our citizens, for¬†the¬†stable development of¬†our country. Russia certainly has its own interests we defend and¬†will continue to¬†defend within the¬†framework of¬†international law, as¬†all other states do. And¬†if someone refuses to¬†understand this obvious thing or¬†does not want to¬†conduct a¬†dialogue and¬†chooses a¬†selfish and¬†arrogant tone with us, Russia will always find a¬†way to¬†defend its stance.
At¬†the¬†same time, unfortunately, everyone in¬†the¬†world seems to¬†be used to¬†the¬†practice of¬†politically motivated, illegal economic sanctions and¬†to¬†certain actors' brutal attempts to¬†impose their will on¬†others by¬†force. But today, this practice is degenerating into something even more dangerous¬†‚Äď I¬†am referring to¬†the¬†recently exposed direct interference in¬†Belarus in¬†an¬†attempt to¬†orchestrate a¬†coup d'√©tat and¬†assassinate the¬†President of¬†that country. At¬†the¬†same time, it is typical that even such flagrant actions have not been condemned by¬†the¬†so-called collective West. Nobody seemed to¬†notice. Everyone pretends nothing is happening.
But listen, you can think whatever you like of, say, Ukrainian President [Viktor] Yanukovych or¬†[Nicolas] Maduro in¬†Venezuela. I¬†repeat, you can like or¬†dislike them, including Yanukovych who almost got killed, too, and¬†removed from power via an¬†armed coup. You can have your own opinion of¬†President of¬†Belarus Alexander Lukashenko's policy. But the¬†practice of¬†staging coups d'√©tat and¬†planning political assassinations, including those of¬†high-ranking officials¬†‚Äď well, this goes too far. This is beyond any limits.
Suffice it to¬†mention the¬†admission made by¬†the¬†detained participants in¬†the¬†conspiracy about a¬†planned siege of¬†Minsk, including plans to¬†block the¬†city infrastructure and¬†communications, and¬†a¬†complete shutdown of¬†the¬†entire power system in¬†the¬†capital of¬†Belarus! This actually means they were preparing a¬†massive cyberattack. What else could it be? You know, you cannot just do it all with one switch.
Clearly, there is a¬†reason why our Western colleagues have been stubbornly rejecting Russia's numerous proposals to¬†establish an¬†international dialogue on¬†information and¬†cyber security. We have come up with these proposals many times. They avoid even discussing this matter.
What if there had been a¬†real attempt at¬†a¬†coup d'√©tat in¬†Belarus? After all, this was the¬†ultimate goal. How many people would have been hurt? What would have become of¬†Belarus? Nobody is thinking about this.
Just as¬†no one was thinking about the¬†future of¬†Ukraine during the¬†coup in¬†that country.
All the¬†while, unfriendly moves towards Russia have also continued unabated. Some countries have taken up an¬†unseemly routine where they pick on¬†Russia for¬†any reason, most often, for¬†no reason at¬†all. It is some kind of¬†new sport of¬†who shouts the¬†loudest.
In¬†this regard, we behave in¬†an¬†extremely restrained manner, I¬†would even say, modestly, and¬†I¬†am saying this without irony. Often, we prefer not to¬†respond at¬†all, not just to¬†unfriendly moves, but even to¬†outright rudeness. We want to¬†maintain good relations with everyone who participates in¬†the¬†international dialogue. But we see what is happening in¬†real life. As¬†I¬†said, every now and¬†then they are picking on¬†Russia, for¬†no reason. And¬†of¬†course, all sorts of¬†petty Tabaquis are running around them like Tabaqui ran around Shere Khan¬†‚Äď everything is like in¬†Kipling's book¬†‚Äď howling along in¬†order to¬†make their sovereign happy. Kipling was a¬†great writer.
We really want to¬†maintain good relations with all those engaged in¬†international communication, including, by¬†the¬†way, those with whom we have not been getting along lately, to¬†put it mildly. We really do not want to¬†burn bridges. But if someone mistakes our good intentions for¬†indifference or¬†weakness and¬†intends to¬†burn or¬†even blow up these bridges, they must know that Russia's response will be asymmetrical, swift and¬†tough.
Those behind provocations that threaten the¬†core interests of¬†our security will regret what they have done in¬†a¬†way they have not regretted anything for¬†a¬†long time.
At¬†the¬†same time, I¬†just have to¬†make it clear, we have enough patience, responsibility, professionalism, self-confidence and¬†certainty in¬†our cause, as¬†well as¬†common sense, when making a¬†decision of¬†any kind. But I¬†hope that no one will think about crossing the¬†"red line" with regard to¬†Russia. We ourselves will determine in¬†each specific case where it will be drawn.
I¬†will now say, just as¬†I¬†always do during the¬†annual addresses to¬†the¬†Federal Assembly, that the¬†improvement and¬†qualitative strengthening of¬†Russia's Armed Forces continues on¬†a¬†regular basis. In¬†particular, special attention will be given to¬†the¬†development of¬†military education both at¬†military school and¬†academies and¬†at¬†military training centres at¬†civilian universities.
By¬†2024, the¬†share of¬†modern weapons and¬†military equipment in¬†the¬†armed forces will reach nearly 76 percent, which is a¬†very good indicator. This share in¬†the¬†nuclear triad will be over 88 percent before this year is out.
Standing on¬†combat duty are the¬†latest Avangard hypersonic intercontinental missile systems and¬†the¬†Peresvet combat laser systems, and¬†the¬†first regiment armed with Sarmat super-heavy intercontinental ballistic missiles is scheduled to¬†go on¬†combat duty in¬†late 2022.
The¬†number of¬†combat air systems with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, and¬†warships armed with precision hypersonic weapons such as¬†Kinzhal that I¬†mentioned, and¬†with the¬†Kalibr missiles, is increasing. The¬†Tsirkon hypersonic missiles will be put on¬†combat duty soon. Work is underway on¬†other modern combat systems, including Poseidon and¬†Burevestnik, in¬†accordance with the¬†development plans of¬†the¬†Armed Forces.
As¬†the¬†leader in¬†the¬†creation of¬†new-generation combat systems and¬†in¬†the¬†development of¬†modern nuclear forces, Russia is urging its partners once again to¬†discuss the¬†issues related to¬†strategic armaments and¬†to¬†ensuring global stability. The¬†subject matter and¬†the¬†goal of¬†these talks could be the¬†creation of¬†an¬†environment for¬†a¬†conflict-free coexistence based on¬†the¬†security equation, which would include not only the¬†traditional strategic armaments, such as¬†intercontinental ballistic missiles, heavy bombers and¬†submarines, but¬†‚Äď I¬†would like to¬†emphasise this¬†‚Äď all offensive and¬†defensive systems capable of¬†attaining strategic goals regardless of¬†the¬†armament.
The¬†five nuclear countries bear special responsibility. I¬†hope that the¬†initiative on¬†a¬†personal meeting of¬†the¬†heads of¬†state of¬†the¬†permanent members of¬†the¬†UN Security Council, which we proposed last year, will materialise and¬†will be held as¬†soon as¬†the¬†epidemiological situation allows.
Russia is always open to¬†broad international cooperation. We have consistently advocated the¬†preservation and¬†strengthening of¬†the¬†key role of¬†the¬†United Nations in¬†international affairs, and¬†we try to¬†provide assistance to¬†the¬†settlement of¬†regional conflicts and¬†have already done a¬†great deal to¬†stabilise the¬†situation in¬†Syria and¬†to¬†launch a¬†political dialogue in¬†Libya. As¬†you know, Russia played the¬†main role in¬†stopping the¬†armed conflict in¬†Nagorno-Karabakh.
It is on¬†the¬†basis of¬†mutual respect that we are building relations with the¬†absolute majority of¬†the¬†world's countries: in¬†Asia, Latin America, Africa and¬†many European countries. We are consistently expanding as¬†a¬†priority contacts with our closest partners in¬†the¬†Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, BRICS, the¬†Commonwealth of¬†Independent States, and¬†our allies in¬†the¬†Collective Security Treaty Organisation.
Our common projects in¬†the¬†Eurasian Economic Union are aimed at¬†ensuring economic growth and¬†the¬†wellbeing of¬†our people. There are new, interesting projects here, such as¬†the¬†development of¬†transport-and-logistics corridors. I¬†am sure they will become a¬†reliable infrastructure backbone for¬†large-scale Eurasian partnership. The¬†Russian ideas of¬†this broad, open association are already being put into practice, in¬†part, via alignment with other integration processes.
All these projects are not just geopolitical ideas but strictly practical instruments for¬†resolving national development tasks.
I¬†began today's Address with urgent healthcare issues, and¬†concluding it, I¬†would like to¬†say the¬†following. Nobody in¬†the¬†world knew what misfortune we would have to¬†face. However, we, citizens of¬†Russia, have already done much and¬†will do all we can to¬†counter the¬†threat of¬†the¬†epidemic. Our country has reliable resources for¬†this. We created them in¬†healthcare, science, education and¬†industry in¬†previous years.
However, we must definitely move forward. We have mapped out national development tasks. Naturally, the¬†challenge of¬†the¬†epidemic has made objective adjustments to¬†our work. Today's Address contains instructions on¬†demography and¬†family support, as¬†well as¬†on¬†efforts to¬†fight poverty, increase incomes, create jobs, improve the¬†business environment and¬†raise state management to¬†a¬†new level.
I¬†would like to¬†ask the¬†Government to¬†focus on¬†these tasks in¬†preparing new initiatives on¬†Russia's socioeconomic development and¬†instruct it to¬†present them by¬†July¬†1 of¬†this year.
What do I¬†have in¬†mind? Doing everyday work, we must certainly not forget about our strategic development goals and¬†our national development goals, and¬†we must improve the¬†mechanisms for¬†reaching them.
We will discuss the¬†Government's proposals with the¬†participation of¬†the¬†relevant State Council commissions, our business associations, experts and¬†the¬†Civic Chamber. Following such a¬†broad discussion, we will make final decisions on¬†further financial and¬†organisational actions at¬†the¬†meeting of¬†the¬†Council for¬†Strategic Development and¬†National Projects.
Now I¬†would like to¬†address all citizens of¬†Russia once again to¬†say that we will do everything in¬†our power to¬†achieve the¬†goals set. I¬†am sure we will move forward together and¬†accomplish all the¬†tasks that we have set for¬†ourselves.
Thank you very much for¬†your attention.
The¬†National Anthem of¬†the¬†Russian Federation is played.
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