President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Ms Lvova-Belova.
Maria Lvova-Belova: Good afternoon, Mr President.
Vladimir Putin: Ms Lvova-Belova, when did you become a member of the Federation Council?
Maria Lvova-Belova: I became a member of the Federation Council from Penza Region a year ago.
Vladimir Putin: Ms Lvova-Belova, you have such a big family. How many children do you have?
Maria Lvova-Belova: Nine children – I gave birth to four and adopted five. Thirteen young people with disabilities are under foster care but they do not live with me. They are part of my assisted living projects.
Vladimir Putin: How do you cope with all this? I am referring to your community tasks as well.
Maria Lvova-Belova: Mothers with many children are used to multitasking.
Vladimir Putin: What among all the things you do and have done do you like most?
Maria Lvova-Belova: Mr President, this is, of course, work with families in hardship, orphans, and young people with disabilities. I like this work and consider it important. I understand that if I have an opportunity to take part in their lives, I am very happy to do this.
Vladimir Putin: Ms Lvova-Belova, you also have broad experience of large-scale public work and, of course, the family upbringing of your own children.
Naturally, the position of a commissioner on children’s rights provides its holder with an opportunity to use all their knowledge, skills and experience to achieve serious, meaningful results for a large number of families and children.
As I understand it, you are ready for this work.
Maria Lvova-Belova: Mr President, I appreciate your trust. It is truly a great honour for me.
I have been involved in protecting children’s rights for 15 years now, which has given me a lot of experience, and it is a personal story for me as well. I understand there will be areas that are new to me, and I will need to get familiar with them, but I am convinced that my track record of working on the ground with socially vulnerable groups, large families and orphans and, of course, my experience in working at the Federation Council under the leadership of Valentina Matviyenko will help me succeed. Plus, I have a good working relationship with Anna Kuznetsova.
I think it is crucial to preserve the best practices that have been developed during this time and keep moving forward. It is also important to focus on protecting children’s rights to family, education and health, and to create an equal playing field for all children regardless of their social status, place of residence or health, and to support large families.
So, Mr President, if you allow me, if you trust me with it, I will, of course, take up this job with great pleasure.
I cannot help but share my personal story with you. When I was 15, I was at a hospital with my younger brother. It was the first time I had seen an abandoned baby, it was in the ward next to ours. It was so little, so defenceless lying there on this bare plastic cover. Back then, as I stood next to this box, I vowed that when I grew up, I would do everything I could to make sure that every child in Russia has proper care, support and the attention of the adults. And I believe that this is the mission of the Commissioner for Children’s Rights.
Vladimir Putin: There is much to do here, and this is a noble cause, so I wish you every success from the bottom of my heart.
Maria Lvova-Belova: Thank you, Mr President.
I would like to ask for a meeting with you two months from now. I would like to delve into this work now, and in two months I will be able to discuss my vision and my goals for the near future in more detail.
Vladimir Putin: All right, this is what we will do.
Maria Lvova-Belova: Thank you very much.