Mr Putin introduced Alexander Blokhin, the new minister of federation affairs and nationalities, by emphasising the exceptional importance of the ministry’s work for the country as a whole.
The acting president said that Russia could not be a powerful and mighty state without strong armed forces and a developed economy. He added that the work of the Ministry of Federation Affairs and Nationalities was also indispensable in this respect.
Mr Putin said the ministry’s responsibilities, which include ethnic and federal relations and local self-government, were of priority importance for Russia. He underlined that no large-scale state issues should be solved without the ministry’s participation. Furthermore, the ministry should initiate solutions for major economic and social problems.
The ministry plays a major role in the life of Russia, a vast, multi-ethnic state. He gave as an example Dagestan, home to 100 ethnic groups.
The acting president requested that the ministry personnel preserve the valuable experience that had been accumulated under the previous minister, Vyacheslav Mikhailov, and do their utmost to achieve further progress.
Later, during a conversation with journalists, Mr Putin commented on the situation in the State Duma, noting that the deputies should themselves advance the candidacy of a speaker.