President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, good afternoon.
I am happy to welcome all the representatives – not all, but those that are present here – I hope that the others will see us via the media, representatives of the country's largest political party.
First of all, I would like to thank all the members and supporters of the United Russia party for their hard and dedicated work during the difficult circumstances due to the pandemic. It is clear that there are many questions. I am sure that people have a lot of concerns with the leading political party. But on the whole, a lot of work has been done.
I would like to thank you for your contribution to the promotion of the most important decisions on emergency assistance to people, especially families with children and those who lost their jobs during this hard period of time; for your hands-on involvement in implementing the entire range of measures aimed at supporting the Russian regions, the national economy and its key industries, and small and medium-sized businesses.
Your representatives’ performance at all levels of executive power, in the federal and regional parliaments, and in municipalities has been satisfactory, I should say. Indeed, you sometimes worked as a single team. I know that when this huge disaster hit us, in the first and most difficult period of the epidemic, many United Russia members and supporters joined the We Are Together nationwide campaign. They personally volunteered for the most challenging projects. In addition to their jobs, they helped doctors, looked after the sick, substituted for hospital aides, delivered food and medicine to the elderly and lonely people, and helped set up assistance centres.
I would like to mention that the party initiated many anti-crisis mechanisms. This is true: party members, especially in parliament proposed many ideas that later became the foundation for our actions, including additional support for people and company teams at the regional level.
The Address to the Federal Assembly contained a whole set of systemic proposals from United Russia. I consulted the party leaders and we discussed what ideas need to be formulated and in what way to promote the most important areas in our work. It’s important that you have already started implementing what was mentioned in the Address. All these ideas are also being translated into law.
In general, the party is efficiently participating in resolving the key tasks of the country’s socioeconomic development. It is prioritising the interests of the people and is doing all it can to enhance the trust of its voters.
I know United Russia recently held preliminary voting, which has become a tradition. It plays a major role in determining the best candidates at the upcoming elections for various levels. Lists of nominees are compiled with consideration for voter opinion. Later, the party will endorse its list at a congress.
This is what I would like to note in this context. Many events, meetings and meaningful discussions took place during the preliminary voting. People shared with you what motivates them and what they are worried about, urgent problems they face every day, and sometimes their personal pain and suffering. They made requests, wishes, specific proposals and gave instructions. The entire party will be responsible for implementing them. It cannot forget or neglect anything in this respect. This is the foundation for our work, including the drafting of the party programme.
Let me say it again – the preliminary voting is a much needed mechanism for feedback from the people. It really works in practice. Incidentally, United Russia is, so far, the only party to conduct such a broad and open procedure. In part, this reaffirms, through the process, that it is not afraid of competition inside its structure. It is not avoiding an open and honest conversation with people. It is willing to consult them, support their initiatives and understand their criticism.
I will add that the goal of the preliminary voting is not just to select candidates, but primarily to promote the party’s continuous development and involve the biggest possible number of supporters, fellow thinkers, smart, purposeful and caring young people.
I would like to remind you that during the March 4 meeting with We Are Together campaign participants we talked about the huge potential of the volunteer corps and other public organisations. I am sure that many of their members took part in the preliminary voting of the United Russia party.
I am aware that the party has been seriously renewed: over 52 percent of those who won in the preliminary voting are not party members; these are the people who have proved during their work with the people that they have a right to represent the interests of our citizens.
I would like you to specifically speak about this, to tell us about the voting procedure and how many winners tried their hand in the preliminary voting for the first time. I have already mentioned this, but I would like those who took part in the event for the first time to tell us what they felt and what they can offer to people and the country in this connection. I am saying this without any exaggeration or any big words.
As for our future plans, objectives and our joint efforts to implement the socio-political development agenda, I know that there were very many young people among those who took part in the preliminary voting, and they constitute over one third of the selected candidates. This is a very good indicator as well, showing that young people are not keeping aloof of the country’s development and the problems it is facing, and that they are not only ready to take part in the preliminary voting but also to address the tasks facing the country. This is extremely important.
I would like to congratulate all of you, all those who took part in the voting, but especially those who have won, on reaching a major milestone in your lives. This is definitely a milestone event, because direct contact with the people is a very serious part of the school of life. I really hope that those who participated in this event but did not succeed will not lose but will retain their appetite for this kind of political activity and, moreover, will become convinced that they are on the right track and will carry on.