Meeting participants honoured the memory of the Bulgaria cruise ship accident victims with a moment of silence.
Participants in the meeting included Chairman of the United Russia's Supreme Council, Speaker of the State Duma and leader of the United Russia Party faction in the State Duma Boris Gryzlov, Chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) and Deputy Speaker of the State Duma Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Communist Party Central Committee Chairman and leader of the Communist Party faction in the State Duma Gennady Zyuganov, leader of A Just Russia Party faction in the State Duma Sergei Mironov, leader of the LDPR Party faction in the State Duma Igor Lebedev, Chairman of A Just Russia Party and State Duma Deputy Nikolai Levichev, State Duma Deputy Speaker Ivan Melnikov (Communist Party), and Acting Secretary of the General Council Presidium of the United Russia Party and State Duma Deputy Sergei Neverov, and First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Vladislav Surkov.
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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon.
As you know, today is a Day of Mourning. Many people died when the cruise ship Bulgaria sank in the Volga; unfortunately, a large number of the victims were children. Let’s hold a moment of silence to remember them.
(Moment of silence.)
”The State Duma session was concluded several days ago. We have passed some important laws, including the law to reform the Ministry of the Interior and anti-corruption legislation. Some of these laws elicited a very tense but substantive discussion. I think that this is good.“
Naturally, this terrible accident will require an exceedingly thorough investigation; I already gave all the necessary instructions to the Prosecutor General’s Office and Investigative Committee yesterday. Furthermore, it demonstrated grave violations in transport security. I will not comment on the reasons for this yet; that’s up to the law enforcement agencies and the state government commission, which is currently working on-site. In any event, it is quite clear that we can no longer tolerate this. And perhaps we will need to amend current legislation (here, I am addressing you). Tough measures must be taken against those who break transport laws (I am referring to permissions and licenses to run civilian ships) and those who put many lives in jeopardy through their actions. I am counting on you, as the heads of our political parties and parliamentary factions, to give this matter your special attention. I will also issue my own suggestions.
The State Duma session was concluded several days ago. The final session of the Federation Council will be held soon. I feel that this political season has been quite productive. I would like to thank you for your active work. We have passed some important laws, including the law to reform the Ministry of the Interior and anti-corruption legislation. The parliament supported my initiatives to improve our criminal laws to make them more modern and, I hope, more efficient. Moreover, we continued working to improve the political system and electoral legislation. I know that some of these laws elicited a very tense but substantive discussion. I think that this is good.
The most important political event of this year is still ahead of us: State Duma elections. Regional and municipal elections will be held at the same time in many of the federal constituent entities. Everyone has begun to prepare for the battle for parliamentary mandates: pre-election programmes and candidate lists have been finalized. I hope that the electoral campaign will be open and honest, and that the elections will be absolutely fair. If we are able to reach that result, we will have a modern, responsible parliament, capable of resolving a huge number of challenges standing before our nation.
”I hope that the electoral campaign will be open and honest, and that the elections will be absolutely fair. If we are able to reach that result, we will have a modern, responsible parliament, capable of resolving a huge number of challenges standing before our nation.“
At the same time, I would like to tell you that I feel our political system requires further improvement. I think all of you will support me on this. It cannot remain rigid, especially given that after a kind of calm period, it has now gained a certain level of momentum, and I feel this is positive. I stated the key areas for improving the political system, as well as the investment climate and the economic situation, during the St Petersburg forum. As for political objectives, I am presently seeing the need for government decentralisation. We have an over-centralised nation: I have noticed that throughout our territories alone, we have about one thousand federal structures, and naturally, each of them is looking for work. This does not mean that they are all ineffective, but we certainly need to bring about some order.
The structure of interbudgetary relations needs further improvement. It has its own set of problems, and municipalities still do not have significant sources of income. I would like for you to present your suggestions on this matter as well, because clearly, a considerable part of our economic and social challenges should be resolved not in Moscow, in the Kremlin, in Parliament or even the Government, but at the regional and municipal level.
At the end of June, as the political season came to an end, I submitted to the State Duma a draft law on lowering the electoral threshold at the upcoming elections to five per cent. This initiative was supported unanimously, but this only means the time for these changes has come. In all likelihood, I will have more suggestions in this area.
I would also like to hear your opinions on the current situation and on all other issues. I suggest that we begin our talks. And as usual, at the end of this discussion, I would like to ask you to make corresponding statements for the media. They will be awaiting you impatiently.