Thursday, December 01, 2016

Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly.

Vladimir Putin made his Annual Address to the Federal Assembly. Traditionally, the Address was taking place at the Kremlin’s St George Hall.

Putin Federal Assembly.
Russian President Vladimir Putin.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon colleagues, members of the Federation Council, State Duma deputies, citizens of Russia,
Today, as usual in these annual addresses, I will speak about our tasks in the economy, the social sector, domestic and foreign policy. This year’s address will focus particularly on the economy, social issues, and domestic policy.
We have to address all of these different matters in complicated and highly unusual conditions, which is not a unique event in our history. The people of Russia have shown convincingly once again that they can rise to the difficult challenges and protect and defend their national interests, sovereignty, and independent course.
Colleagues, I have already said publicly on other occasions what I want to say today, but let me say it again now.
Our people have united around patriotic values. We see this unity and we should thank them for it. They have united around these values not because everyone is happy and they have no demands, on the contrary, there is no shortage of problems and difficulties. But people have an understanding of their causes and, most importantly, are confident that together we can overcome these problems. It is this readiness to work for our country’s sake and this sincere and deep-seated concern for Russia that form the foundation of this unity we see.
People expect at the same time to have broad and equal opportunities for self-realisation and for making reality their business, creative, and civil initiatives. They expect respect for their person, their rights, freedoms, and labour.
The principles of justice, respect, and trust are universal. We are consistent in defending these principles on the international stage, and, as we see, not without result. But we must put the same effort into guaranteeing these principles here at home, with regard to every individual and to society as a whole.
People take any injustice and untruth very much to heart. This is a distinguishing feature of our culture in general. Our society resolutely rejects arrogance, conceit, insolence and selfishness, no matter in who they see it. Our people place greater value on qualities such as responsibility, high moral standards, concern for public interests, and readiness to listen to others and respect their opinion.
This was reflected in the election campaign that took place this year. As you know, I supported in my 2012 Address the idea of returning to a mixed model for elections to the State Duma. This was a principled step towards meeting public opinion’s demands.
I think that our course of developing the political system, the institutions of direct democracy, and of making elections more competitive is completely justified, and will certainly continue.
The State Duma has bolstered its role as a representative body and the legislative branch of power’s authority has strengthened in general. We must support and confirm this with concrete action. This concerns all political forces represented in the parliament.
United Russia, of course, bears particular responsibility here. Incidentally, the party is celebrating its 15th anniversary at this time. United Russia has a constitutional majority in the State Duma and is the Government’s main support in the parliament. We must organise work together in such a way as to ensure that all promises and commitments made to our people are honoured.
Our people decided the election campaign’s result and chose the road of constructive development. They proved that we live in a healthy society that is confident in its fair and just demands, has ever stronger immunity against populism and demagogy, and values highly the importance of solidarity, closeness and unity.
I am not talking, of course, about any kind of dogmas or a false unity put on for show, and I am certainly not talking about imposing a particular world view. We have already gone through all of this in our history, as you know, and we have no intention of returning to the past.
But this does not mean that we can juggle eloquent words and use talk of freedom as a cover for insulting others’ feelings and national traditions.
Someone might consider themselves more progressive, intelligent and cleverer than someone else, but if this is the case, be respectful towards others, and this would be the natural thing to do.
At the same time, I think it is unacceptable to take an aggressive attitude in return, all the more so if it degenerates into vandalism and breaking the law. The state authorities will respond with firmness to such cases.
Tomorrow, the Council for Culture will meet, and we will certainly discuss these issues that provoke broad discussion, and will talk about the principles of mutual responsibility of civil society representatives and arts world figures.
But let me emphasise that whether in culture, politics, the mass media, public life, or in debates on economic issues, no one can ban freedom of though and the freedom to openly express one’s position.
Let me say again that when we speak of solidarity and unity, what we mean is conscious and natural consolidation of our people in the interests of Russia’s successful development.
Is it possible to achieve major strategic goals in a fragmented society? Is it possible to resolve our tasks with a parliament that instead of productive work spends its time on competing ambitions and fruitless argument?
Can we develop successfully on the shaky foundation of a weak state and apathetic government controlled from abroad and that no longer has the people’s trust? The answer is clearly no.
In recent years, we have seen a number of countries where this kind of situation has opened the road to adventurists, coups, and ultimately, anarchy. Everywhere, the result is the same: human tragedies and victims, degradation and ruin, and disappointment.
It is worrying to see that around the world, even in the seemingly most prosperous countries and stable regions, we witness the emergence of an ever greater number of new divisions and conflicts on political, ethnic, religious and social lines.
This is all unfolding against the background of the very serious migration crisis that countries in Europe and elsewhere face today. We know well the consequences that these great upheavals can bring. Unfortunately, our country went through many such upheavals and their consequences in the 20th century.
Next year, 2017, will mark the 100th anniversary of the February and October revolutions. This is a good moment for looking back on the causes and nature of these revolutions in Russia. Not just historians and scholars should do this; Russian society in general needs an objective, honest and deep-reaching analysis of these events.
This is our common history and we need to treat it with respect. This is something that the outstanding Russian and Soviet philosopher Alexei Losev wrote about. “We know the thorny road our country has travelled,” he wrote. “We know the long and tiring years of struggle, want and suffering, but for our homeland’s sons, this is all their native, inalienable heritage.”
I am sure that the vast majority of our people have precisely this attitude towards their homeland, and we need history’s lessons primarily for reconciliation and for strengthening the social, political and civil concord that we have managed to achieve.
It is unacceptable to drag the grudges, anger and bitterness of the past into our life today, and in pursuit of one’s own political and other interests to speculate on tragedies that concerned practically every family in Russia, no matter what side of the barricades our forebears were on. Let’s remember that we are a single people, a united people, and we have only one Russia.
Colleagues, the basis of our entire policy is to take care of people and increase human capital as Russia’s most important resource. Therefore, our efforts are aimed at supporting the traditional values and the family, at [implementing] demographic programmes, improving the environment and people’s health, and promoting education and culture.
You know, I cannot but say a few words about what is happening in reality, about what we have here and what we have achieved. The natural population growth continues.
In 2013 – the demographers have the term fertility rate – it was 1.7 in Russia, which is higher than in the majority of European countries. For example, it is 1.2 in Portugal, 1.3 in Spain and Greece, 1.4 in Austria, Germany and Italy, and 1.5 in the Czech Republic. These are 2013 figures. In 2015, the total fertility rate will be even higher in Russia – 1.78 – the rise is slight but it is still a rise.
We will continue to introduce changes in the social sphere so that the system meets more of people’s expectations and needs, and becomes more modern and just. The social spheres should attract skilled professionals and talented young people. That is why, we are raising specialists’ salaries and improving their working conditions.
Let me note that competition to enrol in medical and teacher training universities grows steadily (whereas not so long ago it was hovering around zero). In 2016, it was 7.8 persons for the teaching professions, and after the 2016 enrolment the general competition for state-financed openings was almost 28 applications per opening. God grant all of them – the young specialists – good health and success in their future pursuits.
I remember well how my colleagues and I discussed hi-tech medical aid projects and networks of perinatal centres, which we lacked at that time. In 2018, Russia will have 94 such centres.
Today our doctors save newborns in the most complicated cases. We have reached the level of the advanced countries in these indicators as well.
Back in 2015, Russia’s infant mortality indicators were 6.5 per 1,000 live births, whereas the European Region of the World Health Organisation had 6.6; this means that our [indicator] was slightly better. After 10 months in 2016, Russia reached the level of 5.9.
Over the past decade, the number of high-tech medical services has increased by a factor of 15. Hundreds of thousands of complex operations are performed not only at the leading federal centres but also at regional hospitals. While in 2005, when we launched the programme, 60,000 people in Russia received high-tech medical assistance, in 2016 the number will be 900,000. It is also essential to move forward. Still, compare: 60,000 and 900,000. Some difference.
Next year we will need to introduce mechanisms to ensure stable financing of high-tech assistance. This will make it possible to make it even more accessible and reduce waiting time for operations.
On the whole – to put it bluntly – problems in the healthcare sector remain and there are still plenty of them. They are related mostly to the primary care level. Its development should be given priority.
Patients are often confronted with waiting lines, a perfunctory attitude and indifference. Doctors are overworked and it is difficult to get an appointment with the required specialist. What often happens is that outpatient clinics are provided with the most modern equipment but medical specialists simply lack qualifications to use that equipment.
Starting next year, regular retraining programmes will be organised at federal and regional medical centres and universities. A specialist will now obtain an advanced training voucher and will be able to choose where to undergo training.
We will also continue to enhance the IT level of the public healthcare system to facilitate the procedure of scheduling doctor’s appointments and keeping records. It is important to free doctors from routine tasks, from the need to fill in bundles of reports and statements and give them more time for attending to patients.
Information technology will also be used to significantly tighten oversight over the market of vital medications. This will make it possible to get rid of counterfeit and illegal products and deal with inflated prices in the procurement of medications for hospitals and outpatient clinics.
I propose connecting all of our country’s hospitals and outpatient clinics to high-speed Internet over the next two years. This will enable doctors even in a remote town or village to use the advantages of telemedicine and quickly receive consultations from their colleagues at regional or federal clinics.
I would like to bring this to the attention of the Communications and Mass Media Ministry. The Minister has assured me that this task is absolutely realistic and feasible.
I just mentioned this in my Address, and the whole country will now follow the issue carefully.
Considering Russia’s geography, its vast expanses and certain poorly accessible areas, Russia needs a well-equipped air ambulance service. Next year, the air ambulance programme will cover 34 of the country’s regions, which will receive funding from the federal budget.
First of all, I am referring to Siberia, the North and the Far East. For this purpose (the parliament members should know this, as it was partly their initiative), in 2017, we will allocate 3.3 billion rubles to pay for aviation services as part of the air ambulance development project (the proposal should be adopted in the second reading).
Colleagues, in every corner of our great country, children have to be able to study in a pleasant, user-friendly, modern environment, so we will continue the programme for the reconstruction and renovation of schools. There will be no more rundown and dilapidated school buildings with no basic amenities.
It is necessary to finally resolve the problem of the third shift, and hopefully eliminate second shifts as well. We should certainly make extra effort to improve the qualifications of teachers. As you know, a programme is being implemented to expand the number of students served by educational institutions in 2016. This programme is planned for 2016−2025, with 25 billion roubles envisaged annually.
Incidentally, we all know that it is primarily the regions’ responsibility. However, we decided to support the regions in this important initiative. Overall, from 2016 to 2019, we plan to create 187,998 new openings for students in schools.
At the same time, the greatest concern for parents and teachers, and the general public as well is the content of the educational process and how well school education meets two basic goals that Academician Dmitry Likhachev listed: to give knowledge and to foster morality. He rightly believed that morality is the basis that determines the viability of society: its economic, public, and creative sustainability.
It is certainly important to preserve the depth and solidity of national education. Compositions have been returned to the school curriculum, and more attention is being paid to the humanities.
Yet, the hours of tuition according to the school curriculum will clearly not be enough here. We need projects in the theatre, cinema, television and museums, and on the Internet, that are of interest to young people, that attract the attention of young people to the national classical literature, culture and history.

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