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Russian pundit looks ahead to president's state-of-the-nation address

Dmitri MedvedevMoscow, 27 November: The main themes of the Russian president's upcoming address to the Federal Assembly (scheduled for Tuesday 30 November) will probably be social policy, development of the housing and utilities sector, reform of the MVD (Ministry of Internal Affairs) and foreign policy, Aleksey Makarkin, first vice-president of the Political Technologies Centre, believes.

"One of the main themes in the president's address may well be the social dimension of modernization. The previous address proclaimed a policy of modernization, and now the time has come to identify the possible social consequences of this policy, the possible social costs," Makarkin told Interfax.

According to the political analyst, the basis for this assumption is the increased attention the head of state has recently been paying to the resolution of social problems. "People want to receive a sign from the state that they won't be forgotten, that their interests won't suffer and that the state will continue to pursue an active social policy. Those sorts of signals will probably feature in the address. One of the signs of this is that the president has started visiting shops and taking an interest in the price of black bread," Makarkin notes.

It cannot be ruled out that the development of the housing and utilities sector may figure among the main themes of the address, the expert believes. "There's an issue about what to do and how to modernize the system so that it retains its operating capacity over a lengthy period of time. During the president's recent internet conversation with the public, the housing and utilities sector was one of the priority themes. This direct conversation was probably a particular part of preparations for the address," Makarkin said.

In his opinion, it would be entirely logical to assume that, in his address, the president will dwell at some length on reform of the MVD. "Reform of the MVD has, in essence, been launched. It is already under serious discussion. I believe that this issue is of great public importance, partly in connection with the recent tragic events in Krasnodar Territory (the murder of 12 people in the village of Kushchevskaya earlier in November)," Makarkin said.

In the expert's opinion, the main themes of the address will include foreign policy, including within the context of increased dialogue with the West and NATO.

"I believe that one of the reasons for the address being postponed was specifically the foreign policy factor. There was a whole series of events, the Asia-Pacific Cooperation summit, the G20 summit and the Russia-NATO summit. It is probably on the basis of these events and those conversations that took place there, in the context of discussions of the global economic situation at the G20 and in the context of the dialogue with the North Atlantic bloc (NATO) that these issues will be raised during the address," Makarkin said.

Overall, in his opinion, the upcoming address will differ from previous addresses in the sense that it will present the interim results of Dmitriy Medvedev's presidency. "There will probably be an element of him reporting. This is the penultimate address, of the first term of the Medvedev presidency at any rate. While the previous two addresses contained ideas and plans, now it's time to talk about interim results," Makarkin believes.

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