President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Dear colleagues, good afternoon,
Voting has closed and you have won your elections; naturally I must congratulate you on your victory and wish you success. I have traditionally done so, and I do it with pleasure.
But I must say that this alone is not the meaning and purpose of our meeting today. Rather it is to realise, to once again understand and establish that elections do not only mean happily slapping each other on the back and congratulating each other. We must also acknowledge that a huge responsibility for the future of your region rests on those shoulders, on your shoulders. And these are vast regions where significant numbers of our citizens live. In several regions some very serious problems are still far from being resolved. And all this lies on your shoulders. This is the first point.
Second: you felt how political work has become more complex, and more competitive in the fullest sense of the word. And this is also the result of our actions in recent years to improve Russia’s political system. Not only parliamentary but also non-parliamentary parties are participating in elections; many of them significantly improved their standing in regions where legislative elections were held. This suggests that our citizens are looking for alternatives, looking for people that they believe can effectively solve the problems they face.
Naturally I am pleased to note that all incumbent regional leaders were re-elected. But let me repeat that this demonstrates once again that we need to engage in normal work, create capable teams, and encourage people to work effectively together.
I would draw attention to the fact that in some regions we agreed with local deputies that regional parliaments will appoint their own leaders. This is primarily required by ethnic variety. Not so much to ensure security or resolve some related problem; above all this is a political tradition, related to the multi-confessional, multi-ethnic, special composition of these regions.
First and foremost I am referring to the Caucasus: to Daghestan and Ingushetia. Traditionally, members of different ethnic groups have occupied senior positions in the regional governments there. It is difficult to compose these agencies so harmoniously via direct elections, so I think that our colleagues were right. But in fact organising this work is also their business. Federal law gives you the right to elect regional leaders by direct secret ballot, or conversely via parliament. It’s their decision.
I would also note that United Russia has somewhat strengthened its position compared to the legislative elections [in 2011]. But this also means only one thing, that citizens’ trust must be vindicated.
And to conclude, something traditional but not formal. I would urge you to ensure that you build relationships not only with your supporters, but also with all of your opponents. Even though they lost, they sincerely aspired to a position of power in order to solve our citizens’ problems. And certainly there is something of value in their programmes that could be used for joint work, particularly for collaborations.
I would like to conclude on this point, and to congratulate you once again on the results.
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