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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon, colleagues. Please take your seats.
I will be brief. I welcome you all and am very pleased to see you. It is a lovely spring day outside, and so let’s talk about the spring and our future prospects.
Chairman of The United Russia Supreme Council Boris Gryzlov: Mr President,
Three days ago, on April 24, the United Russia’s core group had a meeting with the party’s chairman, Vladimir Putin. He shared his views on the results of the election campaigns, and made an important announcement for us all. He said that seeing as he has been elected President and will take office in the inauguration ceremony on May 7, he thinks it right for him to step down from the post of United Russia chairman. We, the party’s members, accept this decision.
He made another important announcement, too. He proposed that the party put forward Dmitry Medvedev’s name to head the party at the next congress. This proposal received our active support. You headed United Russia’s list in the State Duma election, and the party obtained a decent result that reflects a high level of support among the voters. Along with the State Duma election there were also municipal elections too. The results from the municipal elections in December and March gave United Russia 68 percent of municipal mandates and 67 percent of mandates to head municipalities. In other words, around two thirds of our population supports United Russia.
United Russia is still a leader today. We have 238 seats in the State Duma. Over the first months of its work, the new State Duma [formed following the December election] has shown that we can give real incarnation to the decisions and proposals coming from the party itself, the Government, and the Presidential Executive Office. We are also passing the draft laws that you send to the State Duma, Mr President, and are making the necessary decisions. Indeed, despite the harsh attacks in the tabloid press, the things said about us in the internet, and even the political protest fever that we have seen since last December, United Russia’s membership is growing.
Taking the figures from January up to now, we have 5,000–6,000 new members a month on average. You said at your news conference yesterday that you will join the party, and we are looking forward to having you in our ranks. We welcome this and we are waiting for your official announcement and hope that you will come to the party congress on May 26 (this will be the party’s XIII congress and the General Council Presidium has already decided on its organisation) already a party member so that we can address the main issue on our agenda – electing a party chairman. This post would be yours, and you would be able to count on the entire congress’ support. I think this would be the best possible decision.
Dmitry Medvedev: Friends and colleagues,
First of all, thank you very much for the trust that you place in me in making this proposal. I also want to thank Vladimir Putin, who made this proposal and put forward my name as candidate for the post of party chairman.
To say some banal but completely sincere words, this is indeed great trust and a great responsibility. I have for a long time now seen developments within the party as something that concerns me too, and have relied on United Russia’s support in carrying out state policy and pursuing our political objectives. But this is not just a matter of the party’s future. It is ultimately about our country’s development, where we are going, what kind of Russia we will have, and what will happen.
I therefore want to thank you all, first of all, and thank the party chairman for making this proposal. Second, I want to say that I officially accept it. I think this will help to take us forward and strengthen our unity. Third, in reply to what Mr Gryzlov said just now, I want to repeat something I said recently.
Our political system is still young and developing. It still has many problems. But if we want to be honest, honest above all with our voters and our people, we must take a clear and honest position on one particular issue, namely, that if a particular political organisation supports you, it should be to this organisation that you tie your future. I therefore will join the ranks of United Russia.
In general, I think that for our country to develop in modern and harmonious fashion and for our political system to develop along the lines we see in most modern and developed countries, the party’s future leaders (and I am sure the party has a bright future and will be around so long as our political system continues to develop and so long as it has the public’s support) should also be members of the party, simply so as to set an example and make it clear to everyone whether they are looking at the situation from the inside or for whatever reason are separating themselves from what is going on.
We have gone through different stages in our political system’s development, and there was a time when the party chairman was the country’s president, but the circumstances were a bit different then. Let me say, however, that in the future the president should be a member of a political party, otherwise it is hard to explain to people exactly which political force is in power. What is the difference, for example, between a president backed by United Russia, and a presidential candidate supported by the communists? This is a matter for our future development.
As for my own future, if — as we agreed and proposed to the last party congress and the nation at large — the State Duma supports my candidacy for the post of prime minister, then we will have completed the political construction that gives us the president as guarantor of the Constitution – a president backed by United Russia and who remains close to United Russia, a prime minister who is a member of United Russia and who, if the congress approves, will head the party, and our multifaceted political system. We will have a civilised political system, and I think this is very important.
Once again, friends, I thank you for your trust.