Vladimir Putin delivered the Annual Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly. The Address was traditionally delivered at the Kremlin’s St George Hall.
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.
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.
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 thought 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.
Unlike some of our colleagues abroad, who consider Russia an adversary, we do not seek and never have sought enemies. We need friends. But we will not allow our interests to be infringed upon or ignored.