PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN:
First of all, I would like to thank you for the analysis you made in your speeches and, of course, for your kind words and your serious employment proposals.
We all remember what state the country was in seven-eight years ago. A lot of people doubted that we would have the strength to combat terrorism and separatism and that we would even manage to hold the country together. We are still far from having solved all these problems. Russia still faces numerous threats and dangers, but we have succeeded in turning the situation around: constitutional order has been restored and our country’s territorial integrity is once again intact and guaranteed. We will continue our uncompromising fight against terrorism until this scourge is totally eradicated.
It looked at one time as though we would never manage to free ourselves from powerful oligarchs whose influence was based on corruption, violence and information blackmail. We have accomplished a great deal in terms of cleaning out this illegitimate influence from the upper levels of state power, but, as has been said today, we still have much to do in fighting corruption. Our economy, and therefore our entire social sphere, was dependent on foreign debt and foreign borrowing, and this meant that we were not independent and enabled others to interfere in our domestic affairs. We turned a blind eye to this situation, sometimes even pretending to like it, and we were unable to effectively protect our own interests in international affairs.
We still face many problems in other areas too. As has already been said, there is a great divide between the incomes of rich and poor in our country. We need to work towards fairer provision for people in their old age and for those who are unable to work. We still have much work to do in the areas of health, education, science, strengthening our defence capability and rural development. But the situation in these areas is improving. Most important is not the positive trends that have emerged, but the fact that the policies we are pursuing ensure a high economic growth rate and growing investment and incomes, and this creates the conditions that enable us to be fully confident about our ability to solve all the problems we face today, above all the social problems, and to do so with respect for human rights and liberties and in a free and democratic system.
Now, regarding the ideas and proposals put forward today.
Thank you once again for your offers. Though I was one of the initiators of United Russia’s founding, I, like the vast majority of people in our country, am not a member of any political party, and I would rather not change this status. I think it would be wrong to change the Constitution to suit one particular person, even if that person is someone I most certainly trust.
The proposal to head the Government is entirely realistic, but it is too soon to talk about this at the moment because at least two conditions would first need to be met. First, United Russia would have to win the State Duma election on December 2, and second, our voters would have to elect a decent, effective and modern-thinking President with whom it would be possible to work together. What we need to talk about today is the fact that your party can and should be an instrument for guaranteeing social stability and ensuring that the next parliament and the state power system in general can function effectively. Your party should initiate development and provide support for the executive authorities in carrying out the plans that have been made. This is all something that can and should be the subject of discussion.
It is therefore with gratitude that I accept your proposal to head the United Russia list.