Also, Dmitry Medvedev visited the Kostroma Region’s election commission and discussed key aspects of its pre-election work with its members, including the creation of equal competitive opportunities for participants in the political process.
The commission has already begun preparations for the State Duma elections in December and the 2012 presidential elections. Dmitry Medvedev saw a demonstration of automated election machines (for ballot processing), which will be used in the upcoming elections in many polling places in Kostroma Region.
Later, the President also discussed current issues of Russia’s political system development at a meeting with young deputies representing parliamentary parties.
* * *
Excerpts from discussion with leaders of parliamentary parties in Kostroma Regional Duma
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: This is a very important issue you have touched on there. I think this issue – the question of political culture — will be one of the key issues for our country over the next decade, because no matter how we look at things, our political system is going to develop over these coming years. Some parties will get more votes, and some less. That’s the way life goes. The main thing is to have constructive working relations between the various parties’ leaders, not just in Moscow, but in the regions too. This does not mean you should all be the same, far from it! On the contrary, you should be firm in criticising each other, and in criticising the executive authorities too when they deserve it. But at the same, at the general day-to-day level, you should have solidly established and positive relations, because this is the only way to achieve the degree of political consolidation needed to reach national goals and resolve our problems. After all, ultimately, all of us here want our country to succeed and prosper, want our people to earn more money, want decent roads, want to get agriculture back on its feet, get our industry thriving and growing, and so on.
Of course, we all might have different views on what we consider priorities and how to achieve these goals, but working relations and political culture are extremely important things. The progress we have made on this road over the last 20 years is of tremendous significance, and I would say is indeed critically important for our country.
Yesterday, I visited the National Radio and Television Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) and congratulated them on their anniversary. I mention this now, recalling the events of 1993, when political passions were on the boil and everything spilled over into the streets. I am not passing judgement on those events right now – they are already part of history – but am simply recalling that political passions had really reached boiling point then, and, to be honest, the country was on the brink of a civil war that would have been a catastrophe for our entire nation, for our whole country. We have come a long way since then and have changed the way we work. Yes, we have different views, but we meet and discuss things with each other now. Hardly a month goes by that I don’t invite the leaders of all the parliamentary parties to come and discuss issues with me. I think this is essential. They get together with me much as we are doing now here, and tell me about the problems in this or that area. In fact, many of the proposals that I have made a part of our laws came out of precisely these meetings, when the leaders of this or that party would say, “You know, this needs changing.” I’d examine these proposals and make my own recommendations, and I can say that I’d have perhaps not thought of these things on my own without this chance to hear others’ views.
Some issues are very much in the public eye, matters such as the mass media, access to the state-owned media, for example. Obviously this will always be a somewhat specific issue in some ways, but we certainly need to at least enshrine the principle of equal opportunity in this area in law. In reality it does happen that representatives of some groups have greater access than others, but legally speaking, the same conditions need to apply to all. I think it is very important that these guarantees were put in place, and I think this is the fruit of precisely this kind of constructive political discussion. I therefore think that the fact that you communicate with each other, and debate, argue, with each other, is extremely important and sets a good example. This is the case in many other regions too, but not everywhere do we see the same kind of constructive situation. I really think that this constructive political culture is absolutely crucial for our future.