May 19, 2003
PRESIDENT PUTIN HAS SCHEDULED MIKHAIL KASIANOV'S ELECTION
Putin's address was a progress report for the past three years
Author: Andrei Reut
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
RESULTS OF THE PRESIDENT'S ADDRESS TO THE FEDERAL ASSEMBLY, AS INTERPRETED BY ANALYSTS. WITHIN THE NEXT DECADE RUSSIA'S GDP IS EXPECTED TO DOUBLE, ACCORDING TO THE OBJECTIVE THE PRESIDENT SET IN HIS ADDRESS. HE DIDN'T SPECIFY HOW THAT COULD BE ACHIEVED.
Within the next decade Russia's GDP is expected to double, according to the objective the president set in his address to the Federal Assembly. He didn't specify how that could be achieved. The government, though it failed to implement many of the objectives set in Vladimir Putin's address last year but wasn't censured, will be implementing this idea. The president only promised that the next government will be formed based on results of the Duma elections.
"I'm asking Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin to announce the address," Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov said. "I'm offering you a report on the situation in the country and first of all I will make some summations," Putin began his speech.
This year's presidential address to the Federal Assembly differed from the previous ones. Fifteen times during his speech he repeated the phrase "three years," which means that his address resembled a report on the amount of work done more than an ordinary statement on the situation in the country. Many forecasted that the address would have an election aspect.
This was the only forecast which proved to be correct. The president was speaking on the public consolidation before the face of new threats, inadmissibility of getting relaxed and creating illusions. Putin offered the country to brace up for another economic breakthrough.
An intrigue had preceded the address. The address was constantly postponed for about 45 days, whereupon the president assembled the deputies at the Kremlin in mid-May, rather than early April as had been planned before. "Each year, the address is rewritten at least a hundred times," an author of the document explained to us. A few days before Putin's address he hadn't been able to discuss the content of the document, explaining that it "will be rewritten until the early hours."
The analysts most often attributed postponement of the address to the Iraqi war. By his address, Putin denies similar conjectures. Last year, Putin was speaking about the foreign political affairs over ten minutes, while this year it only lasted eleven-and-a-half minutes, and didn't even mention Iraq.
Evaluation of the government's work was the second weighty reason for postponing delivery of the address. In his two previous addresses Putin had charged the Mikhail Kasianov-led Cabinet with the administrative reform, while the first results of this work only emerged last Thursday, i.e. a day before the address was delivered.
However, Putin said that the future government would be formed based on results of the Duma elections, that is proceeding from the wishes of the parties which win the elections. The politicians who left the Marble Hall were saying that this would be a step toward parliamentary republic and a very important political decision.
In fact, the president's circle is not possessed with illusions in relation to that. "In no way it is planned to change from a presidential to a parliamentary republic, but strengthening the role of the parties is our consecutive line," a ranking Kremlin source told us. The source reminded us that the parliament has been confirming the prime minister by submission of the president, which means that the opinion of the parliamentary majority will be taken into consideration when appointing the prime minister. As far as the upcoming Duma elections are concerned, the Kremlin hopes that the pro-presidential centrists will gain the victory. The present-day government is relying on the Duma centrists. As Boris Gryzlov, one of the centrists' leaders told us, United Russia has already begun developing its strategic program the government to come will be implementing.
In the meantime, Putin declared the top priority and the main task for the Cabinet - economic growth. He ambitiously stated that within next decade Russia's GDP is expected to double. As a matter of fact, this was the chief news contained in the address. The next president will be summarizing results of this task, but to date Putin hasn't said how the Cabinet could ensure that growth.
"Doubling the GDP within a decade is a difficult target; at the same time, however, we have an 20% increase over three years, which means it is feasible," Sergei Kiriyenko told us. In Kiriyenko's opinion, most important is that the president highlighted the top priority: the economic growth followed by the reforms, which may enable settling that task.
Putin didn't mention a single word about culture. "This is because everything's fine in this field," Culture Minister Mikhail Shvidkoy rejoiced. Religious problems, reformation of natural monopolies, science, the banking reform were not mentioned. The president made a casual remark related to healthcare, but spoke at length on demographics and migration policy. The migration laws recently adopted with the Kremlin's support proved to be very harsh, and need to be changed - this is the main idea. The nation's population is decreasing, and therefore Russia is so concerned for inflow of migrants from the CIS.
The president said: "It sometimes happens that members of parliament who present themselves as liberals and supporters of progressive economic theories actually vote in favor of laws which are destructive for the state budget. And they do so knowingly. Meanwhile, some politicians who never publicly refer to business leaders as anything other than robbers and blood-suckers shamelessly lobby for the interests of big business." Immediately after the address was delivered, many politicians accused Putin of lobbying for the interests of the centrists. His phrase was perceived as criticism of the Union of Right Forces and the Communists, in favor of the pro- Kremlin Duma majority.
(Translated by Andrei Ryabochkin)