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TRANSCRIPT: Dmitriy Medvedev meets with his supporters (excerpt)

Dmitri Medvedev file photo
file photo

FILM DIRECTOR AND SCREENWRITER FEDOR BONDARCHUK: Mr President, I recently attended the first United Russia party congress and I became very depressed.

DMITRIY MEDVEDEV: Yes, I even took note of what you said, it was very harsh.

FEDOR BONDARCHUK: But what is happening today is very different, it is somehow invigorating. In general, are you not moving away from United Russia?

DMITRIY MEDVEDEV: I am now the flesh and blood of United Russia.

FEDOR BONDARCHUK: In general would it be possible to see some kind of modernization? Perhaps modernization is too strong a word, but at least a renewal or some kind of change in mood. Because here I understand that not only the walls produce an effect, and I want to thank you for choosing this location for our meeting.

DMITRIY MEDVEDEV: I also like it: thanks to all who participated.

FEDOR BONDARCHUK: It can be reached without going through an army of security people, and overall I was pleasantly surprised today. Thank you for allowing these people to meet today. Is it possible to transfer even a little bit of this energy there or is this simply a utopian idea?

DMITRIY MEDVEDEV: It depends on all of us.

FEDOR BONDARCHUK: And the last thing: I support not only your political course, I also support you personally. Because in addition to your tough leadership - keep expelling them all - you do not stop taking pictures, and even tweet about the difference between the Leica and Mark II (cameras). And you have not stopped dancing either. Respect!

DMITRIY MEDVEDEV: Thank you. You are the first to appreciate this ability.

FEDOR BONDARCHUK: People just don't understand anything about contemporary dance.

DMITRIY MEDVEDEV: Especially those skills which were acquired in the eighties. I will continue to dance, no doubt about it.

With regard to our party, our United Russia: it will reflect us exactly. The congress. To be honest, we all understand how congresses are. Each congress is always a show: it's not nice to say this, but it's true. Look at party congresses in other countries, it's the same thing.

The important thing is that the party's activities are not confined to congresses. At a congress you can mope around, of course, or you can stand up, applaud, welcome certain decisions, or do the opposite and go into mourning. But in general a congress is always a kind of apogee of the activities of a certain social structure, not a reflection of how strong a party is. As we know, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) went from congress to congress and we all know how it ended. The main thing is that different people were there.

And about the energy we need to invest - here you are absolutely right. We simply must ensure that at all levels the party is composed of modern, intelligent, decent, honest people, the ones who have retained their credibility.

I talked about this at the congress and I can say it again here to you and other members of United Russia, supporters of this party. If we manage to win in December, and the chances are rather high (although we should not let success go to our head yet - the nation's trust must be won), a very serious party makeover must occur.

And not because there are some bad officials in the party, corrupt representatives of the business elite or simply dishonest, unsatisfactory people. No, that is not the only reason. Of course we have to get rid of them - that's true. But it's simply true that the party itself must correspond with the times, otherwise it will not have any chance of winning.

After all, why are parties periodically rebranded throughout the world? Simply to modernize them, to make them more attractive to voters, and to allow them to stay at the cutting edge of social movements.

I do not idealize United Russia: it is what it is. But on the other hand, we do not have a more powerful political force. And when it comes to making decisions in Moscow, the Far East, south, or north, then all of them depend heavily on United Russia. Like it or not, it is currently our leading political force. This may be far from always being the case, and every member of United Russia should remember this.

At a certain point the CPSU believed that the power it held was, well, if not from God, then derived from the classics of Marxism-Leninism, and would continue indefinitely. We know how quickly it ended. You can lose the people's love or popularity just as quickly.

In addition, a strong party depends on a great number of people, not just on the good reputation of one or two leaders. Because if the party is only associated with its leadership... We all realize that people end their political careers sooner or later. In this case, the party would meet a sorry fate. But if it can be represented by a different generation of people, and if they can generate leaders and do so at different levels, then such a party has a good future.

Take a look at some examples of what is happening in other countries. Incidentally, we still have very much to learn in this regard. If a party shows slightly worse or significantly worse results, cannot form a government, or does not achieve something, then what happens? Job rotation. And no one is offended, they do not say: "Well, what? I did so much for this party, it's connected with me. I worked there all my life."

Everyone understands that this is in the interests of the party itself and, therefore, in the interests of the political force we represent. At that point we must find the courage to step aside and say: "Well, fine, let someone else take the position." As a result, the majority of developed democratic parties are able to remain in the European democracies where they are active. It is precisely due to their ability to renew themselves, not just the phenomenal leadership qualities of certain leaders. We need to establish such mechanisms too.

By the way (and this is probably the last thing I would like to say about parties), this doesn't just refer to United Russia. We are all adults, we realize that infinitely dominating our political horizon is impossible. Anyway, sooner or later our system will be such that power will be passed on. The important thing is that this happens via constitutional means and as a result of people's wishes.

So that is what I have to say in relation to United Russia, because I value this party, I am currently its leader, and I hope it will win the elections... Thank you for your support. Other parties should feel the same way, because I would really like to avoid seeing any of the parties active in Russia today go astray. Rather, I would like to see them renew themselves and evolve along with our country, because in Russia there will always be people who sympathize with conservative ideas, people who are sympathetic to right-wing forces or to left-wing forces. And that's normal, it reflects the stability of our society. All parties should feel this.

Before taking on the responsibility of heading United Russia's party list, I tried to make these points during my meetings with other parties' leaders. I do not know what they will say now, especially since electoral season is in full swing. But to be perfectly honest, I am sure that none of them has the moral authority to throw stones at me, with regard to something I tried to achieve over the past three years.

I tried to develop our party and political system. This was not entirely successful and there were some failures, but nevertheless this is what I tried to do. And I am absolutely sure that this is very important for our country.....


I want to talk about problems and return to the beginning of today's conversation. And this is perhaps only for aesthetic reasons, to insert stylistic variety into today's conversation.

I have absolutely no relationship to United Russia and appeal to you as the existing president, who is not preparing to relinquish responsibility for what is happening in our country.

With your permission, I'll try to summarize the problem, the range of problems currently facing our country. In doing this I won't be pushing back the boundaries of knowledge, and maybe I'll simply come across as someone who exaggerates. Well, so be it.

DMITRIY MEDVEDEV: Actually, it was for that reason that I gave you the floor. I know that you have nothing good to say.

NIKOLAY SVANIDZE: The whole truth and nothing but the truth: as in a trial.

So you did list some problems. You have mentioned them before and did so again today. Frightfully ensconced corruption, that is still on the rise. Bureaucratic excesses, also on the rise. The lack of a truly independent judiciary. The very low level of functioning, and at times perhaps simply imitative function, of democratic and civil society institutions.

The lopsided, archaic, opaque economy based on raw materials exports. The lack of both economic and real, political competition. And in many respects this leads to a trend that, unfortunately, we know well from the late Soviet period, a very negative trend known as "the alienation of citizens from the state."

All of these problems are not only serious but also systemic, and therefore probably require a systemic response.

So this is my question to you, Mr President. What tools, what systemic resources do you envision using to solve these problems?


Mr Svanidze, I will not argue with you because everything that you mentioned exists. Mind you, I am not in favour of exaggeration, but I think that all this exists, just not in such proportions that we can say it defines our lives today.

You know, I am also not as young as I would like to be. I remember the Brezhnev era, I remember Andropov's time, Konstantin Chernenko's time, I remember the epoch of Mikhail Gorbachev. No matter what people say, those were other times and our country was different. Good, bad, authoritarian or democratic, Medvedev, Putin; it was still another era.

Nevertheless, all the problems you mentioned really are preventing us from developing today. And all that I have done in recent years has been aimed at if not eliminating them entirely, then at least significantly lessening them. Whether this succeeded or failed is up to you to judge as experts, up to our people and our entire society to judge. This is absolutely the case.

What do I see as the only means that would allow us to keep on doing that? I can tell you very frankly: not to give up power but to continue working. I do not know who will replace the existing management team in ten or fifteen years, but hopefully they will be better, smarter, and stronger than we are. But for now I see my duty, my personal obligation as continuing to work, continuing to work for our country and our people.

If I thought otherwise, I would have gathered you here today for other reasons. I would have said a big thank you to all of you for having been with me in recent years, for helping me, and because together we have done some useful things for our country. But I'm not saying that; I don't want to let you go, I want us to continue to work.

Policy, as you know perfectly well, is the art of the possible. No politicians are absolutely free, just as no decisions are absolutely easy. And for me a whole number of decisions were difficult, including, for example, during the period when I decided to run for president. Maybe it seems that any person who gets such an offer would say: "Oh, cool: I'll be the President of Russia!". And yet, it's a very difficult job. I simply do not have the right to forswear the responsibility for everything that happens in our country, for everything we are doing together. I will absolutely continue this work and the results will be judged in due course.

Dear friends, I want to warmly thank you for coming here today in what really is an informal atmosphere - it's great here, classy, warm, bright - and spending two hours with me. Because I see this meeting as perhaps one of the key ones within the on-going election campaign.

It's true that not everyone here is sympathetic to United Russia, and that's fine. But the people who are here want to improve their country; they are people who want to see it become modern, developed, and strong. And this energy that Fedor remarked on is being transferred to me. I will still need it for a while. So thank you very much for conveying this energy to me - it is indispensable for me today.

And the last thing: I think that the idea of a 'large government' that I talked about is nevertheless supported by the majority of those present here, and if there are no objections we will develop this further.

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