President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ms Kuznetsova, we are meeting on the eve of International Children’s Day. I know that you have prepared a report on your work and on the state of affairs.
Let me start by congratulating you as a mother and as children’s rights commissioner on tomorrow’s holiday, and I will hear your report with pleasure, of course.
Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights Anna Kuznetsova: Thank you, Mr President.
Allow me to give you this small gift from my children – a drawing they did for International Children’s Day. They drew you, and drew our family too.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you. Pass them on a big thank you from me.
Anna Kuznetsova: Mr President, this is my first report to you. I would like to look at three main areas.
First, I want to speak about some problems we have overcome, the results achieved, and the difficulties in this area that we face, and I want to present the proposals that I think demand priority attention.
First of all, I want to note the great importance for our work of your executive order on the Decade of Childhood, which is about to come into force. Let me take the opportunity to ask you to ensure that the programme that the Government will draft and approve within the next three months, as per the executive order, will be put to public discussion. I ask you to facilitate this process.
I want to note the principle at the basis of all decisions made and steps taken. The one basic principle, and I think it the most important, is that children’s rights can be protected only if we protect the rights of families. After all, it is within the family that children’s rights are guaranteed the best protection.
At the same time, one of the difficulties that I have encountered is that when it comes to childhood, there are no secondary problems. We needed to put together a very strong team that could show full effort and motivation to resolve problems affecting children and find solutions in a whole range of different sectors.
I note here the increasing number of appeals sent in. The number of appeals sent in to Commissioner’s office has increased by nearly 30 percent. We should perhaps not automatically assume this reflects an increase in the number of problems. Partially, it is because our office is a convenient platform. There are around 20 agencies working on issues related to children, but the Commissioner’s office is a convenient organisation to which people can appeal and find a way straight to the various agencies.
This situation set us a big task that we had to resolve, namely, to organise very close, professional relations with the different agencies. We established special platforms for this purpose, established an expert council, a council that invites representatives from a broad cross-section of the public. The working groups that make up this consultative body each work on their own area. Some work on looking for missing children, others on healthcare or on support for young people after they leave children’s institutions. In this respect, as I said, we need to work on all these issues and look for solutions in equal share.
I particularly want to note the work that you have supported on information security for children. This is a very serious problem. It concerns me personally as a mother, because I have teenage children and I understand that no one is protected from encountering destructive information. Prohibitive measures are just part of the results we have managed to achieve. Today, the law was passed, and I thank you for supporting it.
I hope the other part of this work will go ahead too, namely, developing what we call alternative content, developing programmes that will help children to discover themselves and that interest them in a world of positive and constructive values. This concerns a broad range of areas, not just the internet, but also television and extra-curricular education. We do not need to confine ourselves to information technology. This is why we drew up a roadmap that we want to present for your attention. The working group that drafted it included public activists and expert community representatives. It presents some comprehensive solutions and I hope it will receive your support.
The next matter, which also came out of our inter-agency work, looks like a narrower matter. This is the issue of vaccinations and TB diagnosis.
Vladimir Putin: This is not a narrow matter, but a key issue.
Anna Kuznetsova: This subject aroused such interest among parents that thousands of appeals have come in to the Commissioner’s office. Legal practice on resolving this issue was ambiguous, and thousands of children have ended denied access to pre-school establishments and schools.
Vladimir Putin: Because they were not vaccinated?
Anna Kuznetsova: Because they have not done a TB test. Before we met at the round table and discussed the issue together, the only way to get access was to do the Mantoux test, as we all did. I am grateful to my colleagues for the constructive dialogue that took place.