Putin's annual Federal Assembly address 2019

Aeneas

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
I just watched Putin's annual address to both houses of parliament. Well worth the listen. It is clear that foremost on Putin's concern is the wellbeing of the average Russians, the development and stability of the state, the cutting of red bureaucratic tape and much more. He speaks encourages those who work in the bureaucracy to be empathy towards the people they are dealing with and not be haughty, but instead recognise where these people are coming from. In other words to walk in the shoes of the people with whom they are dealing. The subtitles were pretty awful but the spoken translations were good and easy to understand. I also found it interesting to watch the faces of the people in the assembly and on what things applause was given.

Here it is:
 

Ennio

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
I haven't watched the video yet, but something I find so admirable about Putin is that he means what he says and says what he means. As if to drive home the life and death struggle he is facing with the West at this time (and with the US in particular), he recently said this:
[...] would do well to digest the words of Putin during a presentation of the Valdai Discussion Club last October. Confronted with a scenario involving an American nuclear attack, he noted that "the aggressor must know that retribution is inevitable, that it will be destroyed." The Russian president did not mince words when it came to recognizing the consequences of any Russian nuclear retaliation. "We are victims of aggression, as martyrs we will go to heaven," Putin told the audience. "And they will just die."
At a time when political rhetoric and bombastic bullshit is coming at us in such high volume, it is refreshing to hear someone state things pretty much as they are. The above quote by Putin not only describes things to their logical end, but frames the situation in what may be a fairly accurate spiritual perspective as well, imo. In contrast to the attitudes and arrogance of the 'shining city on the hill', or the crazed blatherings of "allahu akbar!", when Putin invokes heaven it feels packed with significance. Probably because its backed up by his sincere religiousness.

In case anyone's missed it, there was this recent article on SOTT about Putin's Russia that is among the best we've published I think. The article speaks as much to Putin as a leader as it does the government and Russian people who he's helped elevate and inspire to work with him and to follow his lead. The following is just a part of it, but the whole piece is well worth reading:
The ability to hear and to understand the nation, to see all the way through it, through its entire depth, and to act accordingly - that is the unique and most important virtue of Putin's government. It is adequate for the needs of the people, it follows the same course as it, and this means that it is not subject to destructive overloads from history's counter-currents. This makes it effective and long-lasting.

In this new system all institutions are subordinated to the main task: trust-based communication and interaction between the head of state and the citizens. The various branches of government come together at the person of the leader and are considered valuable not in and of themselves but only to the extent to which they provide a connection with him. Aside from them, and acting around formal structures and elite groups, operate informal methods of communication. When stupidity, backwardness or corruption create interference in the lines of communication with the people, energetic measures are taken to restore audibility.

The multilayered political institutions which Russia had adopted from the West are sometimes seen as partly ritualistic and established for the sake of looking "like everyone else," so that the peculiarities of our political culture wouldn't draw too much attention from our neighbors, and didn't irritate or frighten them. They are like a Sunday suit, put on when visiting others, while at home we dress as we do at home.

In essence, society only trusts the head of state.4 Whether this has something to do with the pride of an unconquered people, or the desire to directly access the truth, or anything else, is hard to say, but it is a fact, and it is not a new fact. What's new is that the government does not ignore this fact but takes it into account and uses it as a point of departure in its undertakings.

It would be an oversimplification to reduce this theme to the oft-cited "faith in the good czar." The deep nation is not the least bit naïve and definitely does not consider soft-heartedness as a positive trait in a czar. Closer to the truth is that it thinks of a good leader the same way as Einstein thought of God: ingenious but not malicious.

The contemporary model of the Russian state starts with trust and relies on trust. This is its main distinction from the Western model, which cultivates mistrust and criticism. And this is the source of its power.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
MOSCOW, February 20, 2019 - Russian President Vladimir Putin conveyed his annual message to the Federal Assembly.
Socioeconomics, healthcare and INF aftermath: Putin's State of the Nation Address for 2019

© Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS

The President’s State of the Nation is the annual public address by the head of state to both houses of parliament, which covers the state of affairs nationwide and defines the main paths of domestic and foreign policy. In total, the presidential address took 1 hour and 27 minutes, with the first part mostly devoted to the country’s socio-economic development, demographics, education and healthcare. The second half covered defense and international security issues.

On demography and social protection

At the very beginning of his speech, the president stressed that the government should prioritize social issues. “Russia must move forward gaining momentum,” Putin said. "We are pressed for time, I have said that on numerous occasions, and you are perfectly aware of that," the head of state stressed. "We cannot waste it on more coordination."


  • Putin is convinced Russia will be able to restore the natural growth in its population by 2023-2024.
  • The president proposes increasing payments for first and second children starting from January 1, 2020. About 70% of families with their first and second children will be able to use it. “More children means less taxes,” said the president.
  • Some 90,000 places should appear in Russian nurseries in 2019, in just three years their number should exceed 270,000. “So that parents could work, study, be happy, enjoy parenting and motherhood, we have already ensured practically the universal availability of kindergartens,” Putin said.
  • The president moves on to mortgage lending, sets out the objective of reducing mortgage rates first to 9% and then to 8% and below. Special support measures are needed for families with children. Large families pay a rate of 6%. It is essential to extend the benefit for the entire duration of the mortgage.
On education and culture

  • By the end of 2021, all schools in Russia will have to have high-speed Internet, the president said.
  • Putin generally noted the success and progress in the sphere of education, but he says that there is no heating, or repairs in a number of schools. Over the next two years, pertinent problems such as these must be ironed out.
  • The president rolls out his Zemsky Teacher program to be launched in 2020, to incentivize teachers – offering each one a million rubles ($15,000) - to move to work in villages and small towns all across the country.
  • The national project provides for 17 billion rubles ($258.7 mln). More than 6 billion rubles ($91.3 mln) would be allocated for the building and reconstruction of rural community centers and local cultural centers with an aim of boosting cultural development in far-off regions of the country.
  • Putin proposed exempting regional museums, theaters and libraries from income taxes, making this benefit indefinite. This will allow them to save some 4 billion rubles annually and spend the money on their development and boosting the income of their employees.

On socio-economic measures and fighting poverty

  • Putin puts forward anti-poverty programs.
  • To protect the public, additional legislative guarantees are needed: the president proposed mortgage “holidays” (or deferments) for citizens with the possibility of repaying the loan later.
  • Poverty can be defeated only through high rates of economic growth, over 3% in 2021, Putin says.
  • The president calls for greater protection for the public against fraud and extortion by microfinancing organizations. According to him, a meticulous and focused approach to the issue is needed.
  • When talking about adjusting pensions for inflation, Putin calls for “eliminating injustice”.
Putin touched upon additional pension payments from the beginning of 2019 to compensate for inflation. Putin recalled that pensions have already been adjusted for inflation within the framework of pension reform, "but if a pensioner's income surpasses the minimum subsistence level, then the senior would no longer be paid the pension supplement in the same amount." "As a result, there is no increase in the pension or it turned out to be much less than the person expected, and many people … feel cheated," he said.

  • Adjustments to offset inflation should be carried out above the minimum subsistence level of the pensioner. The pension should be brought to the subsistence minimum, and then be adjusted.
  • First results of implementing the national projects are to be summed up in early 2020.
On healthcare and the ecology

  • At least 1 trillion rubles will be earmarked for combating cancer in the next six years, Putin promises. He emphasizes the importance of early detection. The president laid down the objective of accelerating the development of palliative care, as 800,000- 1 million people in Russia need it.
  • By the end of 2020, medical care should be available in all locations across Russia, the president vowed.
  • The electronic system in the healthcare sector should be fine-tuned within three years. "Digital technology in the healthcare system should enable greater accessibility of medical assistance. There is a need to streamline electronic communication between medical institutions, pharmacies, doctors and patients within three years," Putin noted.
  • In 2019-2020, more than 1,900 medical and primary healthcare facilities should be constructed and modernized. Putin instructs the government to introduce the "lean clinics" project, which will reduce the time of waiting in line by 66-75%.
  • Putin orders to create a protected brand of environmentally friendly products. Its manufacturing should only involve technologies that are safe for human health.
  • By 2024, all troublesome garbage dumps in the country will be cleaned up. The share of recycling will be increased from 8-9% to 60% within this period.
  • With regard to specially protected areas, the president calls for a detailed audit of reserves, legally fix exclusively ecological tourism there, while also taking into account the interests of the people living there.

On economic development

“We have a strong financial safety cushion. I can tell you - and this is a great piece of news - our reserves completely cover the foreign debt of the state, which is very small, and the commercial sector for the first time in our history," Putin noted.

  • Putin has instructed the government to create the most comfortable conditions for investment in high-tech start-ups. "Now is the time for bold initiatives, for creating businesses and industries, promoting new products and services, and the wave of technological development allows us to grow and conquer markets very quickly," he said.
"We already have examples of successful companies, innovative companies, so that there would be much more, in particular in such areas as artificial intelligence and big data processing, the Internet of things, and robotics," he added.

  • Putin urges Central Bank, law enforcement agencies to clean up the micro-lending sector.
  • Putin called for easing visa restrictions for tourists and expanding the issuance of e-visas.
"There is a huge interest in Russia, our culture, the country’s nature and historical landmarks. Given the experience we gained during the FIFA World Cup, I suggest expanding the issuance of e-visas. We need to think about easing visa restrictions for tourists coming to our country," he said.

  • The government and the Central Bank need to readjust the inflation targets. Revenues should not grow below inflation.
  • Putin urges to give up everything that hinders economic initiatives and free enterprise.
  • The President suggested that when investigating economic crimes, the reasons for detention should be reviewed.
  • High rates of economic growth must be one of the primary goals , for which systemic problems are due to be addressed: ensuring faster growth of labor productivity, improving the business climate, removing infrastructural constraints for the development of the economy, as well as creating a quality workforce.

On foreign policy and diplomacy

  • Putin acknowledged that the INF Treaty was outdated, but the United States should not have used “frivolous pretexts,” accusing Russia of getting out of it.
  • The United States blatantly ignored the provisions of the INF by deploying missile launchers in Romania and Poland, Putin noted
"First, it began with developing and using intermediate range missiles it deceitfully called targets for missile defenses. Then it started to deploy the Mk-41 launchers in Europe, capable of using Tomahawk intermediate range cruise missiles for combat purposes," he said.

  • The Russian president expressed hope that the European Union would take real steps to restore normal political and economic relations with Moscow.
  • The head of state also said that Russia pays great attention to boosting relations with India and China.
  • "Russia cannot be a state if it is not sovereign. Some countries can be, Russia is not able to do that ," Putin said. According to him, building relations with Moscow means "finding joint solutions to the most difficult issues, and not trying to dictate terms."
On science and technology

  • Putin ordered the government of Moscow and Roscosmos to form a national space center in the Russian capital.
  • The president said that by 2025 Russia should become one of the world leaders in the field of genetics and information technology.
  • Scientific and technological progress has become one of Russia’s key national priorities, he said. "I’m confident that we can make it by uniting efforts of the state, businesses, scientific and educational society, and widening freedom for initiative and creativity of our people," the president stressed.
  • Putin also instructed the government to guarantee access to high-speed Internet everywhere and to begin operation of fifth-generation communication systems (5G). The objective should be finished within the next few years.

On defense and military capacity

  • Russia will consider tit-for-tat and asymmetric measures if the United States deploys intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles to Europe, Putin said.
  • All laser systems Peresvet, currently in the experimental operation phase in the armed forces, will enter combat duty in December
  • The work on the advanced Tsirkon hypersonic missile capable of developing a speed of up to Mach 9 is proceeding successfully and will be completed on time, according to the President
  • Moscow won’t continue knocking on Washington’s closed door for disarmament discussions. "We are ready for talks on disarmament [with the United States] but we won’t knock on a closed door anymore," Putin said. "We will wait until our partners are ripe and acknowledge the need for dialogue on this issue on an equal basis."
  • The Russian leader noted that Moscow would continue building up its Armed Forces, along with the intensity and quality of combat training, while taking into account the experience of the anti-terrorist operation in Syria.
  • Putin said on Wednesday that the United States should calculate the flight range and velocity of Russia’s cutting-edge weapons before making decisions, which may pose any threats to Russia.
"There are a lot of those in the ruling elite of the United States, who are excessively fascinated with the idea of their exclusiveness and superiority over the rest of the world."

"This is certainly their right to think this way. But can they make the calculations? Undoubtedly they can," Putin said. "So let them calculate the range and speed of our advanced weapon systems."
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Moscow won’t continue knocking on Washington’s closed door for disarmament discussions, Vladimir Putin stressed.

Feb. 20, 2019 - Putin cautions if threatened, Russia could target US missiles ‘hosts’ and America as well

Putin cautions if threatened, Russia could target US missiles ‘hosts’ and America as well


© Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS

Russia will consider tit-for-tat and asymmetric measures if the United States deploys intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles to Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in his annual State of the Nation address to the Federal Assembly on Wednesday.

"I’ve already said and I want to repeat - and this is vital - to repeat this specifically, that Russia is not planning to be the first to deploy these missiles to Europe. If they are indeed manufactured and sent to the European continent, and the US does have these plans, anyway, we haven’t heard other statements, this will sharply deteriorate international security and create serious threats to Russia since it takes up to 10-12 minutes for certain types of these missiles to fly to Moscow. This is a very serious danger to us. In this case, we will be forced, and I want to stress this, we will be forced to envisage tit-for-tat and asymmetric measures," Putin said.


Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Russia must make great strides and pick up the pace of its development.
Feb. 20, 2019 - Russia must only move forward, constantly gaining momentum, Putin says

Russia must only move forward, constantly gaining momentum, Putin says


© Mikhail Tereshchenko/TASS

We must move only forward, accelerating the pace of that movement all the time," he said in his annual address to the Federal Assembly.

According to the president, the National Priority Projects, which are being implemented nationwide, are strategic, but it is necessary to work on them even now.

"We are pressed for time, I have said that on numerous occasions, and you are perfectly aware of that," the head of state stressed. "We cannot waste it on more coordination."


"It’s absolutely unacceptable to deviate from the targets," he added. "These tasks are complicated, but we cannot ‘lower the bar’ of specific objectives."

According to Putin, these tasks "correspond to the scale and speed of changes in the world.".


The government has a task of using resources of the National Wealth Fund without deteriorating the macroeconomic situation, Putin said.
Feb. 20, 2019 - Russia’s reserves fully cover international debt for the first time in history — Putin

Russia’s reserves fully cover international debt for the first time in history — Putin


© Alexandr Demyanchuk/TASS

Russia’s reserves cover the international sovereign and commercial debt for the first time in history, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday in his State of the Nation Address to the Federal Assembly.

"We have a strong financial safety cushion. I can inform you - and this is a nice and good piece of news - our reserves completely cover the foreign debt of the state, which is very small, and the commercial sector for the first time in our history," Putin noted.

The government has a task of using resources of the National Wealth Fund (NWF) without deteriorating the macroeconomic situation, the head of state said.

"We have a task of building [them] up to a certain level and then use them little by little, without ‘rocking’ the macroeconomic situation. We have recently approached this and start doing so. Revenues from placements are coming to the budget. The income from placement of NWF funds credited to the 2018-year budget amounted to 70.5 bln rubles ($1.1 bln)," Putin added.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Russian state television has listed U.S. military facilities that Moscow would target in the event of a nuclear strike, and said that a hypersonic missile Russia is developing would be able to hit them in less than five minutes.

February 25, 2019 - After Putin's warning, Russian TV lists Nuclear targets in US

After Putin's warning, Russian TV lists nuclear targets in U.S.

FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with FIFA President Gianni Infantino at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia February 20, 2019. Yuri Kadobnov/Pool via REUTERS
FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin

In the Sunday evening broadcast, Dmitry Kiselyov, presenter of Russia’s main weekly TV news show ‘Vesti Nedeli’, showed a map of the United States and identified several targets he said Moscow would want to hit in the event of a nuclear war.

The targets, which Kiselyov described as U.S. presidential or military command centers, also included Fort Ritchie, a military training center in Maryland closed in 1998, McClellan, a U.S. Air Force base in California closed in 2001, and Jim Creek, a naval communications base in Washington state.

Kiselyov, who is close to the Kremlin, said the “Tsirkon” (‘Zircon’) hypersonic missile that Russia is developing could hit the targets in less than five minutes if launched from Russian submarines.


The president did not mention any geographic site Russian missiles might be aimed at, the Kremlin spokesman said.
February 25, 2019 - Kremlin clarifies Putin never directly declared intention to aim missiles at US

Kremlin clarifies Putin never directly declared intention to aim missiles at US

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

Although he declared Moscow’s readiness for proportionate response to the United States’ hypothetical deployment of intermediate and shorter range missiles in Eastern Europe in his annual state-of-the-nation address to the Federal Assembly on February 20,
Russian President Vladimir Putin did not name any geographic site Russian missiles might be aimed at, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the media on Monday.

The president said that if our country is under threat and intermediate and shorter range missiles are deployed near its borders, a proportionate response will have to be made and our missiles targeted not only at the launchers, but at the territories where the center of decision-making is located. Please remember that the president did not mention a single geographic name in this connection," Peskov said.

In this way replied to a request for commenting on last weekend’s broadcast on the Rossiya-1 television channel in which journalists speculated what targets in the US territory Russian missiles might be targeted at.
 

thorbiorn

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Below is a transcript of the first part of the 2020 address. Vladimir Putin begins with presenting the serious problems with the growth of the population, or rather that it is not sustainable on average. Below is one of the pictures the transcript that have been published so far.
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Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly has a transcript
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.

About 1,300 people have been invited to attend the ceremony, including members of the Federation Council, 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, public activists, the heads of regional civic chambers and the heads of major media outlets.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Members of the Federation Council, State Duma deputies, fellow Russians,

The Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly is delivered at the very beginning of the year for the first time. We need to address large-scale social, economic and technological tasks facing the country more quickly and without delay.

Their content and guidelines are reflected in the national projects, whose implementation will require a new quality of state governance and work on the part of the Government and state bodies at all levels, as well as direct dialogue with citizens.

Our society is clearly calling for change. People want development, and they strive to move forward in their careers and knowledge, in achieving prosperity, and they are ready to assume responsibility for specific work. Quite often, they have better knowledge of what, how and when should be changed where they live and work, that is, in cities, districts, villages and all across the nation.

The pace of change must be expedited every year and produce tangible results in attaining worthy living standards that would be clearly perceived by the people. And, I repeat, they must be actively involved in this process.

Colleagues,

Russia’s future and historical perspective depend on how many of us there are (I would like to start the main part of my Address with demography), how many children are born in Russian families in one, five or ten years, on these children’s upbringing, on what kind of people they become and what they will do for the country, as well as on the values they choose as their mainstay in life.

There are nearly 147 million of us now. But we have entered a difficult, a very difficult demographic period. The measures we took starting in the mid-2000s have had a positive effect on demography. We have even reached a stage of natural increase. This is why we have more children at schools now.

However, new families are being created now by the small generation of the 1990s. And the birth rate is falling again. This is the main problem of the current demographic period in Russia.

The aggregate birth rate, which is the key index showing the number of births per woman, was only 1.5 in 2019, according to tentative estimates. Is this few or many? It is not enough for our country. It is approximately equal to the figure reported in many European countries. But it is not enough for Russia.

I can tell you by way of comparison that the figure was 1.3 in 1943, during the Great Patriotic War. It was only lower in the 1990s: 1.16 in 1999, lower even than during the Great Patriotic War. There were very few families with two children, and some couples had to put off starting a family.

I want to say once again that we are alarmed by the negative demographic forecasts. It is our historic duty to respond to this challenge. We must not only get out of this demographic trap but ensure a sustainable natural population growth by 2025. The aggregate birth rate must be 1.7 in 2024.

Demography is a sector where universal or parochial solutions cannot be effective. Each step we take and each new law or government programme we adopt must be scrutinised from the viewpoint of our top national priority – the preservation and increase of Russia’s population.

As we build a long-term policy to support families, it must be based on specific life situations. We need to look closely at difficulties faced by new families, families with many children or single-parent families.

The most sensitive and crucial issue is the opportunity to enrol one’s child in a day nursery. Earlier, we allocated funds from the federal budget to help the regions create 255,000 new places in day nurseries by the end of 2021. However, in 2018 to 2019, instead of 90,000, 78,000 new places were created, out of which only 37,500 places can actually be provided to kids. Other places are unavailable simply because an educational licence is still not obtained. This means that these nurseries are not ready to enrol children.

Governors, heads of other constituent entities, my dear colleagues, this is not how work is done. Come on! It means we have created 77,700 places that are still not fully available. Half of them cannot operate – and we must create 177,300 by 2021. I am asking you to do everything (although it will be very difficult now, however, it needs to be done) to close this gap. Once again, we must work across all areas of family support.

But there is a daunting challenge that directly threatens our demographic future and it is the low income of a significant part of our citizens and families.

According to various estimates, roughly 70 to 80 percent of low-income families are families with children. You are well aware of this. It often happens that even when not one but both parents work, the income of such a family is still very modest.

What decisions have already been made? From January 2020, families with incomes below two subsistence minimums per person will receive monthly benefits for their first and second child. Moreover, these benefits will be paid until the child reaches the age of three rather than 18 months as was the case before. The benefit amount will depend on the subsistence minimum in a specific region. The nationwide average is over 11,000 rubles per child per month. Once again, this is an average and depends on a specific region.

Additionally, with the support of the federal budget we have started paying benefits for the third child and subsequent children in 75 constituent entities, now including all regions in the Urals, Siberia and the Far East.

All of this amounts to substantial support. But the following thought has crossed my mind, and I believe that you also realise this. Parents stop receiving payments when their child turns three, and this means that their family can immediately face financial problems. To be honest, this is happening already. We must prevent this, especially since I realise that mothers often find it hard to combine working and caring for their children before they start school.

We know from the experience of our own children and grandchildren that they often fall ill. Their mothers are therefore unable to work. In this connection, I suggest we introduce monthly payments for children aged between three and seven starting already from January 1, 2020.

Who will be covered by this measure, and how is it supposed to function?

Families whose incomes do not exceed per-capita subsistence minimum will receive these payments. That is, it concerns families facing a very difficult situation.

To obtain these payments, they will only have to file an application and list their official legal incomes. I would like to note that this procedure must become as convenient and simple as possible, so that people would be able to apply without queuing and clearing hurdles. Or they should do this online on the relevant state website.

As I have already said, incomes may vary from region to region. First stage payments will amount to 5,500 rubles, or 50 percent of the subsistence minimum. But that is not all. We will have to analyse and assess the operation of this system. And we will take the next step, if we see that some families are unable to achieve the subsistence minimum while receiving 5,500 rubles. From 2021, we will pay the subsistence minimum in full, or over 11,000 rubles, that will vary from region to region. I repeat, the specific sums will vary, but on average it will amount to 11,000 rubles per child per month.

We will need substantial resources for implementing the proposed measure, and we will also have to adjust the federal budget. I ask the Government and members of the Parliament to do this as quickly as possible. The regions should also complete their share of regulatory work.

What else should we do equally quickly?

In my Address last year I said that we should expand the system of social contracts. It should become an individual programme whereby every low-income family will be able to increase their income and enhance their quality of life. Under these contracts, the state will make regular payments to such families, finance retraining and advanced training and help them to find employment or start a small business.

While providing comprehensive assistance to low-income people, society and the state have a right to expect them to take steps as well to deal with their problems, including finding employment and taking a responsible attitude to their children and other family members.

The regions are already introducing the mechanism of social contracts. But it is not sufficiently effective yet, and it is not helping much to fight poverty or to increase family incomes.

Therefore, first of all I would like to ask the Government to analyse the experience of the pilot projects and revise the principles of social contracts. Second, we must increase financial assistance to the regions so that all of them introduce this mechanism in 2021.

I would like all our colleagues, including the regional heads, to note that we will assess their performance not by the number of social contracts signed but by poverty decline figures.

Colleagues,

Back in 2006, I said the following in my Address to the Federal Assembly: “And now for the most important matter. Indeed, what I want to talk about is love.” It was then that I proposed launching the maternity capital programme aimed at helping the families that decided to have their second child.

This programme will expire on December 31, 2021. I know than many people wonder what the state will do after that. We will extend this programme to December 31, 2026 at the least. We must do this without fail. But this measure only is no longer enough.

We must support young people who are starting their families and, I am sure, dreaming about having children. In this sense, I would like to introduce new, additional decisions concerning the maternity capital, which should also come into effect on January 1, 2020.

Even when the first child is born, the family will have the right to the full amount of the maternity capital, which is 466,617 rubles after the indexation in January 2020. This is the sum that was paid when the second or the next child was born. This support will give families a chance to prepare for the birth of their second child.

But I believe that this is still not enough in today’s conditions, considering the demographic challenges Russia is facing. We can and must do even more. I suggest increasing the maternity capital by a further 150,000 rubles. Families will have the right to this additional money for the maternity capital when their second child is born.

This means that the total amount of the maternity capital for a family with two children will amount to 616,617 rubles. It will be indexed annually in the future.

At the same time I believe that if a family already has a child, we must provide the new, increased maternity capital when the second child is born, which is, as I have already said, 616,617 rubles.

Let me add that we have already made the decision that when the third child is born, the government pays 450,000 rubles towards the family’s mortgage loan. This means that overall a family with three children will be able to invest over one million rubles to solve their housing problems with the help of the government. In many regions, cities, and even regional capitals this amounts to almost half of the cost of a house or a flat.

Let me also remind you that a reduced mortgage interest rate, six percent per year, for families with two or more children has been extended for the entire time of the loan, which resulted in the number of people using this support measure growing almost 10-fold at once.

A social programme for young families has been launched in the Far East: mortgage loans at 2 percent interest rate. I ask the banks, and not just the banks with state capital, to become more actively involved in its implementation.

And here is another highly important matter. I have already mentioned a new payment for children aged between three and seven. But this is not all that we can and must do. Yes, when children start attending school, their parents, especially mothers, get more opportunities to work and earn an additional income. However, families have to pay more in order to send their children to school, they face extra problems, and we have to support them at that stage. In this connection, I suggest providing free hot meals to all primary school students from grade one through four.

I will not conceal the fact that we have had heated discussions on this subject. On the whole, some colleagues do not object, but they say that it would not be very fair that people with decent incomes and low incomes should receive the same amount of support from the state. They are not saying this because they do not want to support the children. Indeed, this argument has its own logic. But there is another logic that prevails in our society: everyone must have equal opportunities, and children and their parents who are often demeaned by the current situation must not think that they are even unable to feed their children.

I believe that this is very important for our society. Yes, they tell me that these benefits were not available even during the Soviet period, when there was large-scale social support for the people. But there was no great social stratification at that time either. I believe that this measure will be justified.

In order to provide free hot and, most importantly, healthy meals, I suggest channelling funding from three sources: the federal, regional and local budgets. But money is not the only thing that matters. We need to create the required infrastructure at schools, set up cafeterias and lunchrooms and put in place a system for supplying high-quality food. I would like to note that this was not done even during Soviet times, as I have already said. This, of course, will require time. But free hot meals must be provided starting from September 1, 2020 in those regions and schools that have the required level of technical equipment. I ask our colleagues to expedite this work. Primary school students must start receiving high-quality hot meals free of charge in all regions from September 1, 2023.

So colleagues, here is the point I want to make, in short. I would like to emphasise – all the steps we are taking are aimed at creating a streamlined, large-scale and, most importantly, an effectively working family support programme, so that people’s incomes, especially for those raising children, are high enough for a decent life.

Secondly, what I said at the beginning of the Address: the steps that we took in previous years in the field of demographic development have already brought results. They have yielded results back then: a large generation is growing up in Russia. I am referring to children who are in preschool and primary school now. It is very important that they adopt the true values of a large family – that family is love, happiness, the joy of motherhood and fatherhood, that family is a strong bond of several generations, united by respect for the elderly and care for children, giving everyone a sense of confidence, security, and reliability. If the younger generations accept this situation as natural, as a moral and an integral part and reliable background support for their adult life, then we will be able to meet the historical challenge of guaranteeing Russia’s development as a large and successful country.

Colleagues,

Supporting families and family values is always a forward-looking strategy addressing the generations that are to live in an age of tremendous technological and social changes, and something that will determine Russia’s fate in the 21st century. So, to have these new generations participate in creating this future even now, to have them fully reveal their potential, we must create the necessary conditions for them, primarily for every child in every region of Russia to get a good education.

In the middle of the coming decade, Russia will have about 19 million schoolchildren, which is 6 million more than in 2010. Some say it is too difficult to influence objective demographic processes, so it is unadvisable to channel large resources for demographic development. However, in reality, we can see direct evidence of the opposite: family support policies are working, and sometimes their results even exceed our wildest expectations. It is great that there are so many children in our schools again. On the other hand, this situation should not affect the comfort and quality of their learning.

I ask the Government to coordinate with the regions, consider the demographic and other factors, estimate how many more children the schools need to serve, and make the necessary changes to the Education National Project. That will require flexible solutions: not only to build more schools, but also to efficiently use the entire educational and other infrastructure we have for these purposes, as well as the benefits of modern technology for education.

Almost all schools in Russia have internet access now. In 2021, they should no longer just be connected, but have high-speed internet access to fully embrace the digital transformation in national education; teachers and students should have access to advanced educational programmes; individual approach to teaching should be practiced to reveal each child’s talents.

Our network of extracurricular technology and engineering centres is developing dynamically. Our children should also benefit from a modern environment for practicing music, art, and other forms of creativity.

Russia is allocating more than 8 billion rubles for equipment and musical instruments for children's art schools as part of the Culture National Project. But the problem is much wider. More than 1,000 art school premises are dilapidated and not fit for use as intended. I would like to ask the Government to help the regions improve them. And I ask the regional authorities not to forget that this is their responsibility.

Furthermore, a modern school implies forward-looking teaching staff enjoying high social status and prestige. By the middle of the next decade, the national professional advancement system should canvas at least half of the country's teachers, in the future including additional professional training, along with general education workers.

Class teachers are closest to their pupils. Their ongoing daily work including mentoring children and teaching them the right ways is a huge responsibility, and definitely requires special training and special support for these mentors. In this regard, I consider it necessary to introduce, from September 1, at least 5,000 rubles in additional payment to them financed from the federal budget.

There is a lot of controversy about this decision, because this is actually the responsibility of the regions. Those present in this room are well aware of this. But what is a class teacher? A mentor and supervisor, and those are federal functions.

But, of course, I would like to point this out: all current regional payments to class teachers should continue, colleagues; I am calling your attention to this. And I will definitely look at what will be happening in practice, in real life.

I pointed out more than once that the pay parameters for teachers, doctors and other public sector employees set out in the May 2012 Executive Orders must be strictly complied with. There is a reason why I keep returning to this subject. If we slacken control of this matter, this will create the temptation to neglect these provisions, as many of those present here know. This must not be allowed. I would like to emphasise that the issue concerns professionals working in the spheres of vital significance for society and the country, and they must receive good and fair pay for their work.

The number of school graduates will be increasing in the next few years. In light of this, we must ensure equal and fair access to free intramural university education. Therefore, I suggest that the number of university scholarships be increased every year. Moreover – what I am going to say next is very important, the priority in this matter must be given to regional universities, especially the regions that are lacking doctors, teachers and engineers.

Of course, we must not simply enrol more students but boost the development of regional universities with support from businesses and employers. In particular, we must strengthen their training, research and social infrastructure, as well as improve the system of training and advanced training of teachers for regional universities so that students receive up-to-date knowledge and can have successful careers in their regions.

The employment market is changing rapidly, with new professions appearing and higher requirements made to the existing ones. Our universities must be able to respond to these changes flexibly and quickly. I believe that third-year students must be offered an opportunity to choose a new path or curriculum, including related professions. This is not easy to do, but we must indeed do this. To ensure that talented and decent people play a major or leading role in our national development, we have launched the Russia – Land of Opportunity project. Over 3.5 million people have taken part in its competitions and Olympiads. We will continue to improve this system.

Colleagues,

Last year life expectancy in Russia exceeded 73 years for the first time, which is eight years longer than in 2000. This is the result of social and economic changes in Russia, the development of mass sports and promotion of healthy lifestyles. And, of course, the entire healthcare system made a significant contribution, especially the programmes of specialised, including high-tech aid, as well as maternity and childhood welfare and protection of health of mother and child.

The rate of infant mortality has reached a historic low. This indicator is even better than in some European countries. I am well aware that the public in many developed countries is very critical of the state of their national healthcare system, and you also know this. In fact, almost everywhere – no, everywhere – people criticise their healthcare system, however well organised it looks from here.

Still our achievements in this area show that if we set certain goals, we can achieve results. However, let me repeat this, people do not judge the healthcare system by figures and indicators. A person who has to travel dozens of kilometres to a polyclinic or spend a whole day waiting in line for an appointment with a specialist is not very interested in how life expectancy has grown on the average. People think about their lives, their health, about how to get high-quality and timely medical aid without obstacles and when they need it. This is why now we must focus our efforts on primary care, which all people and all families have to deal with. This is where we have the worst and most sensitive problems.

This year we are to fully complete the creation of a network of rural paramedic centres, as stipulated in the related national project. This does not mean, however, that all the problems of these rural paramedic centres have been settled. I would like to point out that the mission of these centres is not to make out prescriptions or refer patients to regional medical centres. Local specialists must be able to really help people by using modern equipment and high-speed internet. I would like to ask the Russian Popular Front to monitor the provision of equipment, construction and repair of rural paramedic centres.

On July 1 we will also launch a programme to modernise the system of primary healthcare. We will have to repair and provide new equipment to outpatient clinics, rural hospitals and first-aid stations in all our regions. We have allocated an additional 550 billion rubles for this purpose, more than 90 percent of which will come from the federal budget.

At the same time, I ask the regional authorities to find additional funds for providing housing to doctors and paramedics, in particular in villages, settlements and small towns, and to use all the available instruments towards this end, including employer-rented housing and private housing projects.

Training and recruitment are key elements of medical education. By 2024, all levels of healthcare, but first of all the primary healthcare level, must have the necessary number of specialists. In this connection, I suggest that the admission procedure to medical universities be changed significantly. For example, 70 percent of scholarships in the field of general medicine and 75 percent in paediatrics will be awarded to prospective students who will return to their native regions upon graduation. The quotas will be distributed based on requests filed by the regions, which must subsequently provide employment to the graduates who must be able to work where people need their services.

As for residency training, I suggest that almost 100 percent of scholarships be given to medical graduates in critically important spheres. Priority during enrolment will be given to those with practical experience in the field of primary healthcare, especially in rural areas. This system should be also stipulated for federal medical centres.

And lastly, just as we agreed, a new system of remuneration will be gradually introduced in healthcare starting this year. It is based on clear, fair and understandable rules, with a fixed share of salary in the overall income and a uniform list of compensation payments and commercial incentives for all regions.

I am aware that the implementation of all these goals requires extensive resources. If you go back to where I started, every goal needs a great deal of money. In this regard, I ask the Government to once again consider identifying priorities for our development while retaining the budget’s stability. This is an advantage we have achieved in the past few years, and we must maintain it.

I know that last year a number of regions saw a disruption in medication supplies as the regions’ purchases were not made, with certain officials treating it as if it were some sort of office supplies purchases claiming it was not a big deal and new tenders would be announced. But people were left without essential and vitally important medications. I should point out that such cases must never happen again.

This year, efforts will be made to launch an integrated comprehensive register of recipients of medications that are provided to citizens free of charge or with a considerable discount through a federal or regional subsidy to avoid any confusion in this regard in the future.

Also, certain legislative decisions have already been adopted that will allow for official and centralised imports of certain medications to Russia that are yet to receive regulatory approval. I ask the Government to promptly organise this work so that people, particularly the parents of sick children, do not find themselves in a desperate situation when they cannot legally find the necessary medications.

Control over pharmaceutical drugs will also significantly change. It will be tightened both at pharmaceutical companies and during all stages of medication circulation, including at pharmacy networks.

Colleagues,

In recent years, we have focused on strengthening macroeconomic sustainability, and it is something I just mentioned. The federal budget has had a surplus again. Our government reserves confidently cover our gross external debt. And here I am not talking about some abstract or theoretical indicators – I would like to emphasise that these figures are directly influencing the life of each and every person in our country, and have to do with the fulfilment of our social commitments. We can see the problems, even shocks that citizens of other states face, where government had no such cash cushion and their financial position turned out to be unstable.

The consistent work of the Government and the Bank of Russia has led to a stabilisation of prices. Last year, inflation stood at 3 percent, which is below the target level of 4 percent. True, the prices of certain goods and services have risen slightly, but overall, I repeat, inflation is at a predictably low level. The situation fundamentally differs from what it was five or ten years ago, when double-digit inflation was a tax on all citizens of the country, being an especially hard burden for those on a fixed salary or pension – retired people and workers in the public sector.

Now, relying on a stable macroeconomic foundation, we need to create conditions for a substantial increase in people’s real incomes. Again, this is the most important responsibility of the Government and the Central Bank. To meet it, the national economy needs structural changes and higher efficiency. In 2021, Russia's GDP growth rates should be higher than the global ones.

To have this kind of dynamics, it is necessary to launch a new investment cycle, to seriously increase investment in the creation and upgrading of jobs, in infrastructure, in the development of industry, agriculture and the services sector. Starting this year, annual investment growth should be at least 5 percent, and investment share in the country's GDP, 25 percent by 2024 from the current 21 percent.

What needs to be done to encourage investment?

First of all, we agreed not to change the tax treatment for businesses over a period of the next six years and thus provide a wider horizon for investment planning. The deputies and the Government should speed up the adoption of a package of draft laws on protecting and promoting investment. As you are well aware, tax treatment for major important projects should remain unchanged for up to 20 years, and the requirements and standards for building production sites should remain the same for three years. These investor guarantees should become standard law.

Of course, in addition to major projects, small- and medium-sized businesses’ initiatives should be supported as well. Today, the regions are entitled to provide an investment-based tax deduction and a three-year revenue tax break, but they rarely use them. It is clear why: they do so because regional budgets thus lose revenue. In this regard, we would like federal funds to compensate the regions for two-thirds of the lost revenue stemming from the use of an investment-related tax deduction.

Second, the reform of the oversight and supervisory activities must be completed in 2020, and businesses should thus see improvements in their operating environment.

Third, I have already submitted to the State Duma the amendments to remove vague criminal law provisions in part related to so-called frauds. Thus, entrepreneurs have repeatedly mentioned Article 210 of the Criminal Code, under which any company whose senior executives violated the law could qualify as an organised criminal group, meaning that almost all of its employees were liable. Tougher restrictive measures and punishment were put in place. Law enforcement agencies will henceforth be required to prove that an organisation or a company was initially deliberately created with an illegal purpose in mind.

Fourth. It is estimated that as soon as this summer the foreign currency reserves of the National Welfare Fund will pass the mark of 7 percent of GDP. We have accumulated these reserves to guarantee our stability and security, which means we can invest our additional revenue in development and the national economy.

Cost-effective projects that remove infrastructure restrictions for our territories must become our priority. This includes bypass roads for big cities, arterial roads between regional capitals and exit roads to federal motorways. These projects will inevitably bring about the growth of small businesses, tourism and social activity in the regions and locally.

Fifth. For investment to grow steadily, our economy needs long-term money. We all know this very well. This is a direct responsibility of the Central Bank. I appreciate its consistent course for making loans for the real sector of economy more accessible.

Of course, businesses, companies (especially large ones) must remember about their social and environmental responsibility. I would like to thank our parliament members for demonstrating integrity during their work on the emission quota law.

Obviously, it is necessary to act upon our plans faster. Our next steps include testing and implementing the air quality monitoring system and subsequently expanding this control system to cover the entire country. It is necessary to monitor not only the condition of air but also water and soil – that is, to develop a comprehensive environmental monitoring system.

Next. By the end of this year, at least 80 out of the 300 largest industrial facilities must complete the transition to best available technology and obtain complex environmental permits, which means a consistent reduction of hazardous emissions. Sixteen permits have been issued as of now but overall this work is on schedule. No matter what, we must not allow any disruptions here. It is necessary to drastically cut the amount of waste ending up in landfills, implement waste sorting and generally move towards the circular economy. By 2021, we must already launch the mechanism of extended producer responsibility when producers and importers of goods and packaging are responsible for recycling costs. To put it simply, contaminators must pay.

Colleagues,

I would like to stress that Russia is ready to support Russian and foreign scientists’ joint research on ecology, climate change, environmental and ocean pollution. These are global development challenges shared by everyone.

Today the speed of technological change in the world is increasing manifold, and we must create our own technologies and standards in areas that define our future, such as, first of all, artificial intelligence, genetics, new materials, energy sources and digital technology. I am confident that we can reach a breakthrough here, as we did in defence. I will speak about this later.

In order to solve difficult technological tasks, we will continue to develop research infrastructure, including megascience-class facilities. I am sure that an opportunity to work with unique equipment and tackle the most ambitious tasks will encourage talented young people to work in science. This is already happening. According to estimates, by the middle of the decade every second scientist in Russia will be under 40.

We should give researchers, engineers and entrepreneurs the freedom they need to do their work and to conduct innovative scientific research. I ask the Government and State Duma deputies to fast-track the discussion of the technological legislative package. This year we must launch a flexible mechanism of experimental legal modes to design and introduce new technologies in Russia and establish up-to-date regulation of the big data turnover.

Next, we should establish a mechanism of social support for direct and venture finance tools based on the best global practices. The technological entrepreneur should have the right to take a risk, so that failing to implement an idea will not automatically mean inappropriate use of funds and a possible criminal prosecution. I mean that we should establish such legal and financial conditions that as many start-ups and pioneer teams as possible could become strong and successful innovative companies.

We need to support the export of high-tech products and, of course, to boost domestic demand for innovative products. In this context, I believe it would be right to fast-track the digital transformation of the real economy. A requirement should be set that national projects are largely carried out using domestic software.

We have already put in place, say, major digital television infrastructure, which, in terms of its technical characteristics, is one of the most advanced in the world. Currently, the digital television coverage in Russia is more expanded than, for example, in France, Austria or Switzerland.

The internet has become a must-have for people today. Russia is one of few countries in the world which has its own social networks, messengers, e-mail and search engines and other national resources.

Given all the things I’ve just mentioned, I suggest that the Affordable Internet project be developed and carried out and that free access to socially important domestic internet services be available across Russia. I repeat that in this case people will not have to pay for the internet service, for internet traffic.
 
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