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TRANSCRIPT: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin takes part in the Conference of the United Russia Party

File Photo of Vladimir Putin
file photo
Vladimir Putin's speech to the Conference:

Esteemed Conference participants,

Dear friends,

My fellow Russians,

I thank all of you for your support. I am grateful to Dmitry Medvedev and to the United Russia Conference for nominating me as a candidate for President of the Russian Federation. Of course, I accept the offer with gratitude. In several days' time, in a week, the elections to the State Duma will be held and in March there will be elections of the President of the Russian Federation and then the Russian government will be formed. In effect this is a single cycle of a complete renewal of federal government.

Over the past decade we have succeeded in laying the foundation of our country's future. A great deal has been accomplished. Our colleagues and Dmitry Medvedev have spoken about it convincingly today.

An exceedingly important stage in the restoration of Russia is behind us. A foundation has been created for our country's stable and sustainable development. Our task now is to build on that foundation a strong, prosperous and happy Russia, a Russia of the 21st century.

When people chant "Russia" ­ "Medvedev, Putin," that is good, thank you for that, but when they chant "Russia" everyone's voice must be heard. Let's do it one more time.

Thank you.

More than once during the course of its history Russia has set itself great goals and achieved success and won by rallying around our common values that form the essence of our national character. What are these values? What are these truths? These values are very simple: truth, dignity and justice, triumph over any kind of injustice, respect for every person's dignity, and honesty in the relations between society and the state.

It is obvious that what Russian citizens want above all is justice in the broadest sense of that word. The country must develop for the people and not at the expense of the people. Every decision we make and every step we take must meet the interests of the absolute majority of our country's citizens. The fundamental principle of any transformations and reforms is to take care of the people, which means preserving and fostering Russia's future, creating Russia's future.

We must ensure not only the growth of the country's population, but an improved quality of the human potential. There must be more of us, and we must be strong, efficient and competitive in everything. I am convinced that this formula should be the basis of Russia's strategy for the coming decades.

It is necessary to dramatically reduce social inequality, which is still at a critical level. A massive middle class must form the majority of Russian society. Therefore we should focus on achieving a new standard of living for our people.

That of course implies rising incomes, real incomes adjusted for inflation, growing wages and pensions. But it also means the things that have to do with the day-to-day well-being of every Russian family, that is, housing and utilities services at reasonable and well-grounded rates, clean neighbourhoods, quality street surfaces, both in cities and in rural areas, kindergartens without waiting lists, hospitals and clinics that have everything they need. In short, these are all the things that we have been talking about all along, during the past months, especially in the framework of the Russian Popular Front. I have had many meetings with people, most recently such meetings have been taking place continuously and these concerns are voiced in all the communities, wherever I go, in all the regions.

And no wonder because this is what concerns people most of all. We should make sure that talent and professionalism permit a person to advance in business, the civil service and in public life. So the key issue is a solid quality of Russian education that rules out anything that distorts motivation for genuinely good studies, undermines faith in the value of knowledge and in justice.

It is vitally important to make education and good professional grounding the main means for making headway in society, the main criterion of respect for a person, the start-up capital that enables people to achieve success and in reality enables the whole country to move forward.

If Russia is to be strong and successful we must guarantee truly equal opportunities to enable every person to fulfil his or her potential.

That means creating conditions for prosperous life not only in the capitals but throughout the country, in every region, village and city. I often visit small towns. People come up to me in the street and say: "Life in Moscow, in St Petersburg and some other cities is not so bad, but we would like to have all those benefits here too." Of course, it cannot be achieved today or tomorrow, but we must move in that direction.

Equal rights of competition in the economy must be guaranteed to all. The law enforcement agencies and the judiciary must be capable of ensuring the security and protecting the rights of every person irrespective of their job, social status and income. These are problems that today worry all our citizens, all our society.

These tasks are easier to enumerate than to solve. All this is easier said than done. Indeed, many people say the same things as I have just been saying. And they are right in saying these things, they must be openly said. The meaning is the same, only the wording may differ. These matters must be discussed and these things are right. In such cases people ask themselves, "But who is against this?" Everybody is "for." But unfortunately ­ and this has been mentioned today ­ many speculate, especially on the eve of elections, on the country's problems, on people's legitimate discontent because they still often encounter incompetence and injustice. But let us remember that those who speculate on the well-known sores and diseases of our society and the mistakes and derelictions of power, those who are doing it have at various times already in one way or another been in government and had a chance to "be at the helm" and "practice" steering the country. What were the results?

They brought the country to total destruction ­ I mean the collapse of the USSR ­ while the others who came to power organised unprecedented plunder of the country in the 1990s. History knows of no precedent. In fact, industry, agriculture and the social sphere were totally destroyed. The knife of the civil war was plunged in the very heart of Russia and blood was spilled in the North Caucasus. That too, effectively pushed the country towards catastrophe, towards an abyss.

Every ordinary citizen ­ and what I am going to say is unlikely to please the ruling elite ­ when the ordinary person in his daily life encounters material, financial and other problems, bribery, disrespect, humiliation, he does not think about the global problems of the recent past. That is normal. What do you expect? It could not be otherwise. All this irritation builds up and is directed against the ruling party, against the authorities in general. But, I stress, that is natural.

Who do you call? Where can you go? Who is supposed to solve a person's problems? The authorities are there to solve people's problems and the ruling party has no right to shirk responsibility by constantly citing objective reasons beyond its control. For no one else is responsible for the state of affairs in a village, town, city or region or the whole country. There is no such force. If you are in power, you must solve problems.

Is United Russia always up to the task, does it always meet the challenges facing it? Does it always respond adequately to people's needs and aspirations? Of course not. Indeed, the United Russia party itself, like our society, reflects, in microcosm, all our problems and contradictions that United Russia has yet to address.

Yet it is with the support of United Russia that we made key steps forward at the most critical moment in our nation's history: we have managed to put the country together again, to ensure a very high rate of economic growth, to preserve its sovereignty, get rid of the humiliating and destructive foreign debt, step back from the brink of a demographic abyss, restore the social sector and support motherhood and childhood. We have done a great deal.

Finally, for the first time in the past 20 years during which Russia sustained repeated heavy social and economic blows, for the first time in all these years, during the 2008-2009 crisis, the authorities were able to hold their own in the face of economic upheavals.

The ability to defend the country, to protect the majority of people, to retain and meet all the social commitments, to give the country back its strength and confidence and win respect for it in the world ­ all this has been done with the participation and with the direct support of United Russia.

All this gives me the right to say that we know better than anybody else what to do and how to do it at this new stage in the development of our state, the development of Russia.

Therefore I expect that all thinking, objective and serious people who want a better life for themselves, for their children and for the whole of Russia will support United Russia, whose list is headed by Dmitry Medvedev, in the elections to the State Duma on December 4.

To defeat injustice and to ensure high living standards we need new sources of development and a stronger new economy. It must be an economy of advanced industry and breakthrough technologies, resistant to changes in the market, with growth centres all over the country and backed up by a powerful infrastructure. In order to build an advanced industry and social sector we must open the doors to thousands of new initiatives, enhance the prestige of workers, engineers, farmers, scientists, teachers and doctors ­ all the people who sustain the whole country on their shoulders.

We will continue to improve the relations between the budgets of different levels and the tax system in the interests of the people and economic restructuring. Here too the principle of justice must reign supreme. Independent and active regions which implement development projects, support business and create new jobs must get additional stimuli and more opportunities and resources for their development.

Taxes should not be burdensome for ordinary people while luxury and hyper-consumption must be taxed heavily: that is obvious.

The Russian high-tech manufacturing business, the enterprises and companies operating in the social sector must pay less tax compared with the raw materials sector. We will provide every support for the Russian business, for those entrepreneurs who associate their future with our country, who are building factories and introducing new technologies here, who are developing the Russian countryside and gaining ground in the world market. But business for its part must understand that hiding assets and money offshore or dodging social obligations is not fair and is as inadmissible as violating industrial safety regulations, environmental rules and labour rights.

Economic freedom must rest on the solid foundation of social justice, on responsibility and honest work of the Russian business community.

We do not promise, cannot and will not promise anyone manna from heaven. We cannot and will not promise paradise today or tomorrow. That is impossible, that is just empty talk. But what we do know for sure is that if we work at an even and steady pace, all of us together, the whole country will achieve success.

Economic freedom must be based on a solid foundation of social justice, as I have said. But in order to move forward we need strong government institutions committed to serving the country and its people. We must change the very philosophy of public service, of the state apparatus at all levels, from the federal to the municipal. Our priority task is to bring into the power system professional, dedicated, forward-looking people who are not seeking career advancement ­ though there is nothing wrong with that ­ but who are ready to serve Russia to the best of their ability. Russia has never been short of such people, and there are many such people now and they are sure to be called upon.

We should also steadily and responsibly develop our political system so that people have more influence on power at the municipal, regional and federal levels, so that feedback institutions work.

Our democracy is young and we need political institutions that will not only work for us today, but also for our children. We need a stable political system. We need mechanisms that will guarantee Russia's long-term sustainable development for decades ahead. This is an exceedingly important task for Russia with its history of upheavals and revolutionary disruptions. Needless to say, democratic principles must be observed.

That is why we need evolution, stability and consistency in any political transformations. That is why we should bring a maximum of care and responsibility to the development of our political system.

We will do everything to uphold civil peace and harmony. At stake is the future of our statehood, the well-being of our citizens, the things that we will cherish and uphold. Let those who proclaim the slogans of social and ethnic intolerance and are smuggling in all kinds of populist and provocative ideas that actually lead to national betrayal and ultimately to the breakup of our country ­ let them know that we are a multinational society but we are a single Russian nation, we are a united and indivisible Russia.

Dear friends,

We will continue to pursue an active foreign policy, uphold our interests in a straightforward and honest manner, take part in addressing global issues, creating a more just political and economic world order. We will speak the truth about everything that happens in the world even if there are some who may not like it.

We are open to partnership and dialogue with all our friends, with all states. However, dialogue with Russia can only be a dialogue of equals. We do not want anyone to impose their models on us and tell us how to behave. All our foreign partners must understand that Russia is a democratic country, a reliable partner, a predictable partner, one can reach agreement with it through talks, but one cannot impose anything on it from outside.

Unfortunately, recently, on the eve of the State Duma and presidential elections, representatives of some states are organising meetings with those who receive money from them, the so-called grant recipients, briefing them on how to "work" in order to influence the course of the election campaign in our country. This is an exercise in futility. As the saying goes, it's money down the drain. First because Judas is not the most respected of Biblical characters among our people. And second, they would do better to use that money to redeem their national debt and stop pursuing their costly and ineffective foreign policy.

Rather, let our foreign colleagues and partners unite with us, pool their efforts in combating modern challenges and threats. And there are many challenges and threats in the modern world. We are witnessing a serious transformation of the global economy as new centres of geopolitical influence are emerging. But that is precisely why we are proposing our integration project and regard early creation of the Eurasian Union as a priority. Incidentally, we have done a great deal in recent years to achieve greater unity among former Soviet states.

The new Eurasian Union project fully meets the exigencies of the present day with new opportunities for people, business, trade and investment, for cooperation in culture, science and education, with solid guarantees of stability and peace on the vast Eurasian space. In this connection I must express my gratitude to the leaders of Kazakhstan and Belarus. They are moving along that path steadfastly and calmly, protecting their national interests, but only if their people expressly support them. That is a) impressive and b) it gives us confidence that we will achieve our common goal.

In the next five to ten years we should take our Armed Forces to a qualitatively new level. Our task is, without undermining the country's economy but multiplying it, to create an army and navy and a defence industry that are capable of securing a lasting peace for Russia. Of course that will require major financial outlays. Do we realise it? Of course, we do. It will not be easy, but it is our duty to do it if we want to defend the country's dignity, if we want to defend our sovereignty and independence and protect Russian citizens.

Dear friends,

Today we all see that a new stage in the development of our country is being launched, as I said in the beginning. We have prepared for it and it is realistic. In implementing our strategy we must heed the people and have a sense of their problems. The most important thing is to preserve and fulfil our social obligations, promote the interests of the majority, combat injustice, protect human rights and dignity. Only then will we have the trust of our people. Work every day to improve the quality of life in the country and always tell people the truth even though it may be a harsh truth. We must learn to do it. This is the best state policy, the policy of people's interest, our policy.

We will work towards justice and we believe in justice. We are upholding the dignity of the country and every individual. The truth is on our side. Victory will be ours. Thank you.

* * *

Vladimir Putin's remarks following the vote to nominate him as candidate for President of the Russian Federation

Dear friends and colleagues,

I would like to thank all of you present here today. I want to address my words of gratitude to all Russian citizens, all those who have for many years given their unreserved support for what we have been doing and what I have been doing, as well as to those who have certain doubts. I would like to say that throughout my life I have always felt a part of my country and of this great nation.

All my life has been aimed ­ and I am not exaggerating ­ at serving my country at all its stages. Today, addressing you and all Russian citizens I would like to say this: if people entrust me with the highest post in the country I will do everything to ensure that the results of my work are worthy, that Russia develops and grows stronger, that people's lives become better and more beautiful. Our motto is Only forward!

Thank you. And now I suggest that we show everyone how the United Russia Conference feels about Russia. Russia, hurrah! (chants with the audience) Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia!

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