President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
The purpose of our meeting is quite clear: I would like to congratulate you on being elected to high offices as regional heads. Naturally, I would like to say that, first of all, this trust amounts to tremendous responsibility for your upcoming work. Of course, you realise this.
Taking part in this meeting are those who headed other regions in the past and were able to display their best and those who have won gubernatorial elections for the first time. I believe that all of you are eager to work hard, to achieve 100-percent efficiency, to work with absolute dedication and to score real and tangible results for the residents of the regions you are heading. To serve the people, the country, Russia.
I would like to note that the elections were highly competitive, and that they involved a wide range of parties and candidates. At the same time, the Central Election Commission and public observers registered fewer complaints about violations, as compared to the 2019 elections.
All necessary precautions linked with the coronavirus infection were taken during the elections, so that people would find it absolutely safe to take part in the election process. The three-day election deadline made it possible to heed the opinion of those who, for various reasons, did not always visit polling stations in the past.
The rather convincing election results show that people trust you. By the way, all this took place against the backdrop of a recent campaign linked with amendments to the Russian Federation Constitution. Certainly, people in the regions also responded to the events that were held, and it goes without saying that many things, formalised in the Fundamental Law, the Constitution, should be implemented in the regions. Of course, people pin their hopes for improving life in the regions and resolving all-out and topical problems on you. I am confident that you will do your very best to justify these hopes.
We, the entire country, are facing large-scale goals, I am referring to the national projects, the achievement of our national development goals. And we will also have to act in a non-standard, very difficult situation.
I would like to remind you that as the heads of regions, you are vested with special powers and responsibilities to ensure epidemiological safety, to protect people’s lives and health. I would also like to make one more point in this regard: we are also now entering the colder months, when seasonal flu, ARVI, and so-called common colds are becoming a problem and need to be given priority in our work. It is necessary to ensure people’s safety. On the other hand, the COVID-19 response efforts, efforts to contain the epidemic, have not yet been completed, not yet, far from complete at the moment.
What I am saying is we should never allow problems to pile up on top of one another. Absolutely not. And here, of course, special attention should be paid to the risk groups. We need to work out, based on the situation in each specific region, a programme of comprehensive measures to protect senior citizens – literally, to save the older generation – and others who are at risk due to a variety of circumstances. Like people suffering from chronic conditions. I would like to ask you to take a very careful look at this, and finetune the healthcare systems in your regions so as to ensure the local patients’ interests.
You will certainly need to work with people very discretely, calmly, and unobtrusively, explaining the complexity of the current situation, and where possible, of course, you need to ask people to follow the necessary rules, including wearing facemasks. I am aware that most people find this rather uncomfortable – but catching something is worse. So this work must be carried out consistently, systematically, and again, discretely, yet to the highest degree, professionally.
At the same time, it is also crucial to continue working to restore a normal business rhythm, to support industries, agriculture, small and medium-sized businesses, restore employment and people’s incomes. Each of these targets requires your constant personal attention and utmost mobilization.
There is another important matter. Due to the epidemic and its fallout – notably, we are coping with this challenge for the economy and the social sphere much better than many other states – the parameters of our work are being specified. We need to have them specified. We will discuss, in conjunction with the regions, our plans for implementing national projects at the upcoming meeting of the State Council Presidium. The regions’ opinion is of paramount importance, because the majority of the work will be done locally.
Objectively, we need to be flexible about planning deadlines and identifying financial and resource priorities. However, I want to stress that the national projects’ meaning, key benchmarks and goals remain unchanged. Everything that we discussed before and everything that we told the people, must, of course, be implemented.
Primarily, it is about improving the quality of life of the Russian families, promoting healthcare and education, creating decent working conditions, a comfortable and safe ecological, urban and housing environment, and expanding opportunities for self-fulfillment of each individual.
To reiterate, I am confident you realise that success in achieving these goals largely depends on the work in the regions and each municipality.
Of course, you as the heads of the regions, your managerial skills, and your ability to assume responsibility are of paramount importance. However, you should be able to rely on your team and modern highly skilled professionals.
Most importantly, you should always hear what the people have to say to you. Just like during the election campaign, you must be in an open dialogue with them on a daily basis and to constantly receive live and non-perfunctory feedback. If you hear some criticism, at times even harsh – we are all adults here, and you know what I am talking about – it should not be taken as an offense. On the contrary, you need to build your work on fair criticism and understand the real needs of the people and act accordingly. This is the only way for the authorities at all levels to be truly effective.
I would like to wish you good luck and productive and effective work for the benefit of the people and in the interest of your regions and Russia in general.