In particular, the President noted the importance of non-governmental organisations specialising in education and social support for children, their efforts against teenage drug abuse and protecting children from violence. Dmitry Medvedev visited one of such institutions in Yekaterinburg today. The Pelican centre teaches children and adolescents with physical disabilities and those in difficult life situations alongside children not included in these categories.
The meeting also discussed the reform of law enforcement agencies. Speaking of legal issues and the functioning of government institutions, in particular about the new law On the Police Force, Dmitry Medvedev stressed the need to further develop legislation defining the status, scope of activities and responsibilities of police officers.
During the meeting of the Council, Dmitry Medvedev signed an Executive Order aimed at improving public policy in promoting and protecting human rights and promoting civil society institutions. The Executive Order introduces amendments to the Council’s statute and expands its membership.
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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon, colleagues,
This is our first visiting session. In fact, as I understand, this is the first such meeting in the history of the Council and the commission which preceded it.
We need to analyse what has been done and what could be done in the nearest future. Over the past two years thanks to our joint efforts the legislation on non-profit organisations has been substantially amended and I see this as an achievement of the Council, because it brought up a number of issues, at least to me, in a completely open and purposeful way. As a result, legislation has been adjusted. It is never ideal, but nevertheless, it has been improved, simplifying the registration procedure for non-profit organisations, limiting the list of documents that are required by the oversight agencies, cutting down the number of inspections and reducing the deadlines in which registration documents must be processed. In addition, amended legislation introduced some important new definitions, in particular the definition of socially-oriented non-profit associations and organisations.
Last May we reviewed the North Caucasus issues together. On my instructions, the Public Council of the North Caucasus Federal District has been established. In December, the first meeting of this Public Council took place. It is very important that some of the Council [for Civil Society and Human Rights] members present here take an active part in the Public Council activities as well. I am confident that the Public Council will have a moderate but definitely positive impact on the development of state policy in this highly complex and strategically important sphere for our country.
We have addressed other issues that you raised. When a certain job was completed, I always received reports from you and issued instructions. This does not mean that they were followed impeccably, but in any case, I hope you cannot say that there was no response.
I will now sign an Executive Order which will introduce amendments to the Council’s statute and expand its membership. I hope this will have a positive impact on increasing the efficiency of your efforts. I therefore wish productive work to all the participants of the Council and the new Chairman of the Council. The Executive Order approves the statute of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights and the Council’s membership. I will do it right now, the way President Yeltsin used to do.
We meet in Yekaterinburg today, the hometown of the first President of Russia, and have just participated in the unveiling of a monument to President Yeltsin. The celebrations to mark Boris Yeltsin’s 80th birthday are being held here and in Moscow. This is more than a tribute to a politician and a citizen of our country, as I said at the unveiling of the monument; I think this is a tribute to a certain age, which was extremely complex but vitally necessary. It is also an additional reason to contemplate the significance of the changes that occurred during that period, to assess the strengths of what was done, as well as the problems and errors that occurred and will continue to occur, because no politician is immune to that, and the course of social development is always ridden with problems.
The establishment of our civil society, development of its institutions and progress towards the primary goal became possible precisely because of these changes. The primary goal is human rights, the protection of the rights and freedoms of our country’s citizens. Incidentally, the commission which was reorganised into the Council in 2004, was established in 1993 by the first President of the Russian Federation.
We have several issues on today’s agenda. As usual during our meetings, despite the fact that we have some subjects planned in advance, colleagues speak freely on any relevant topics. In my opinion, this is not bad, because life is broader than our agenda. But there are certain priorities regarding which I would like to hear your response, in particular the priorities outlined in the Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly, including, perhaps most importantly, the subject of childhood.
I have just paid a visit to a non-profit organisation. It is truly impressive, and not because of the scope of its work or the beauty of its building, but because this is a real functioning non-profit organisation. It specialises in providing education both for ordinary children and those who have physical disabilities. They do not charge a penny for this work and are financed entirely by donations. I am very pleased that such organisations are springing up all over the country, not just in Moscow. I am not sure whether the existing regulative framework is sufficient for this organisation’s operation. But as usual, these kinds of people do not complain about anything; they are champions of their cause and have given up a great deal in life. Their dedication inspires great respect, especially because their work involves providing support for children from disadvantaged families, orphans, children with health problems and disabilities. Perhaps we should talk about that as well.
There is another issue, one that used to be banned, which is absolutely unacceptable, even two issues. The first is protection of children from violence, and the second issue is in my opinion also extremely important, it is combating drug abuse among children and teenagers. I believe that non-governmental organisations could play an even more active role in monitoring children’s institutions and the general situation in this sphere.
We will also talk about legal issues, about the functioning of state institutions, the courts and public administration. These are ongoing subjects. All the problems are on the surface and I hope you will express your views on the most difficult aspects, as you usually do.
Tomorrow, the Council of Federation will consider the bill On the Police Force. It was widely discussed in the media and by the online community, by your Council, the Civic Chamber and regional public organisations. Now the law is about to be passed. I would like to see members of the public closely monitor its application, because I can say straight away that this law, like any law, is historic and is probably far from perfect, and will be amended in the future. Especially since after the adoption of this law, it is necessary to enact legislation that will provide the basic statutory provisions for the police, that is, define their status, scope of activities and responsibilities.
There are several other subjects that should probably not be overlooked: extremism, terrorist attacks and the government’s and society’s response to these exceptionally dangerous phenomena. I think that is all I wanted to say at the outset.
Let's agree about the way we are going to proceed. I suggest that the Chairman of the Council, Mr Fedotov, begins our discussion and after that everyone who wishes to speak will have an opportunity to do so. As we agreed, the transcript of the Council’s meeting will be posted on the President’s website.