The events of the congress, which began at the VDNKh exhibition centre in Moscow on November 22 to last for two days, will be attended by around 2,000 participants, including leaders of the party’s regional branches and public reception offices, State Duma deputies, members of the Federation Council, experts and political analysts.
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Address at the United Russia party’s 19th congress
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues,
My greetings to the participants in the 19th congress of the United Russia party. I would like to thank all of you – those present here and those who are working on the ground at the moment, for the joint work and for your substantive and proactive support.
United Russia is the nation’s largest and leading political party. It has gained this status because it invariably had as its priority the protection of the people’s interests, the interests of our Motherland, and it did not fear responsibility at the most complicated turns of history. The party took on this responsibility, and did not shirk difficult decisions that would not yield immediate popularity or extra votes at elections but that are vitally needed for the country, its security, stability and people’s lives in the long-term perspective.
The party repeatedly displayed its will, proved that it had been right, and offered a unifying agenda based on freedom and wellbeing, patriotism, our traditional values, a strong civil society and a strong state.
The key issue in the party’s work is being together with the people, having a thorough knowledge of their demands, needs and problems, responding to them without delay, helping, explaining and protecting. This daily communication with the people is the only way you will reassert and enhance your strength, and prove your leadership through real work, attention to and care for Russian citizens.
Most important are well-coordinated and responsible efforts to implement Russia’s development priorities. This is the key challenge for each of you, for your regional teams and for everyone who supports the party.
I ask you to focus on reaching visible results in all the national projects so that the people feel positive changes in their lives, and, importantly, so that they take part in this joint work and see that all our projects are directed at positive, qualitative changes in people’s lives. Results attained for the sake of the people rather than words or unwarranted empty promises must become the party’s strongest argument in the upcoming election campaigns at all levels, from municipal to parliamentary.
This concerns not just the number of our party members that will get voter support, even though this is very important for any political force. The upcoming elections have tremendous significance for ensuring the continuity of national development, for maintaining and increasing what has already been done and achieved. And we have achieved a great deal.
It is necessary to secure public support for Russia’s long-term advancement strategy. This is the most crucial task and the essence of the party’s activities.
You and our supporters have no moral right to leave anything unfinished, to cut corners, to hide behind empty words, to use populism as a screen for your incompetence and inability. The party’s reputation and image are determined by the people who – I am about to say an extremely important thing now – have their own internal position. This is the foundation for the work of any political force. The people who have their internal moral beacons. Such people must be ready to stand up for these beacons and principles, to fight for them in any situation no matter how hard it is. Idle talkers and opportunists who tapped into the party’s status will betray not only the party but also the country if anything happens. We have witnessed that a number of times in our history, including our recent history.
The party’s expert and intellectual potential is especially needed now, as well as its ability to maintain a constructive discussion to attain common national goals.
They do not materialise somewhere “in the air” or in a vacuum. They have an absolutely living, concrete perspective and are made up of particular projects, initiatives and routine work. Everything matters here – both large infrastructure construction projects, which are kicking off across the country and influence the lives of millions of people, and the modernisation and construction of rural schools, urban clinics, rural first aid centres, improvement in the urban and rural streets and courtyards, which is the space our people live in.
Let me reiterate, the key benchmark, the criterion for the party’s activities is the people’s opinion of the current situation, of the dynamics of positive change in all spheres that affect the quality of an individual’s life. How well do the changes meet expectations? What needs adjusting or correcting? It is this kind of inclusive and real-life efforts that people are expecting from any political party, especially from such a powerful party with such extensive membership as United Russia, which should be a close and responsive partner for them. Do not let any mistakes be hidden, or any flaws get swept under the carpet
I have just said and will probably repeat that we often say that United Russia is the ruling party. It is, in a way this is true. But it does not mean in any way that the party is fully associated with any official or with any level of executive power. A party is a powerful nationwide public political organisation and force, which does not mean at all that it should agree with any action or opinion of an official, regardless of their high position. Even if that person believes to be a party member and underscores his close affiliation with it. The worst thing a party can do is search for comfort, become convenient and compliant for “bosses” at any level.
I ask you to be the leading party in everything. Look for and raise acute public issues, do not wait for the next Direct Line, which I hold every year. Try to solve these issues yourselves and get justice done. You know and see for yourselves that they show a hospital falling to pieces, or something like this, or a school with so many children that some of them have five shifts. But being on the ground, you are supposed to see all that, and if officials do not, you should chase them and shake them up, and get things done.
Let me say again that our goal is to achieve a breakthrough in Russia’s development. This historic challenge concerns everyone – the authorities, the political system and all of society. To set and maintain such a high rate, the rate of transformation, the party itself must change from within, to be utterly open and accessible, including to young people and to our supporters from the volunteer movement.
You must certainly direct the party’s resources at promoting bright, talented, active and patriotically minded youth. The party must prove that it is an effective social lift for those who want to serve their Motherland. United Russia must be a party of leaders defined not by their status or position but by the way they serve their people. I ask Mr Medvedev also to support, as before, all movements and trends of this kind, and all programmes and projects of this kind.
Colleagues, for all the ideological diversity, there are values that unite us all regardless of party affiliation. What are they? It is what we treasure most of all – Russia’s sovereignty, its national interests and territorial integrity. It is also, first of all, the people’s wellbeing and broad opportunities for self-realisation. It is the preservation of the nation, the priority of demographic progress, family and many children in families. And, of course, it is civil peace and interethnic accord, unity and cohesion of our multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation.
These must be the guiding principles regardless of acute political competition, differences in programmes, and ideas regarding the country’s future. These principles, I am sure, are and will always be the unshakable cornerstone principles for United Russia, the party of the majority.
Friends and colleagues, I would like to specially underscore in this regard that a leader is someone who shows an example, leads others, and holds oneself accountable more than others. The status of a ruling party, a party of power, is not in ruling but in serving the people of Russia. The meaning of this service is the future of our citizens, of the children who were born and will be born in Russian families.
Let me wish you success in the work of your congress and to all of you. Thank you very much for your attention.