President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ms Lvova-Belova, I know that you have drafted proposals on how to further invigorate your work. It goes without saying that your work is one of the most important activities because you deal with matters such as children’s rights.
Please, you have the floor.
Commissioner for Children's Rights Maria Lvova-Belova: Today, I would like to discuss three matters.
First, I would like to talk about the topical agenda regarding families and children who have been evacuated from Donbass.
Second, I would like to dwell briefly on our achievements over the past four months and to coordinate strategic aspects of our work with you as my immediate superior. I know that we have very little time, and I will therefore keep to the point.
Mr President, please ask me if you need any details. I would be delighted to talk about everything.
Vladimir Putin: All right.
Maria Lvova-Belova: Regarding evacuated residents and families with children, the relevant commissioners have joined the effort. I asked the Emergencies Ministry to have them as part of the regional headquarters. They are now actively involved in accommodating these people, monitoring the situation and working to fulfil individual requests.
Vladimir Putin: Are you talking about regional commissioners?
Maria Lvova-Belova: Regional commissioners.
I hold regular videoconferences, and colleagues join in from various locations, including railway stations and shelters. They respond to individual requests, such as buying eyeglasses for someone or providing medical assistance. This is one aspect of our work.
I have a question I wanted to discuss with you, Mr President. We have 1,090 orphans from various child-care facilities who have arrived. Of course, Russians have big hearts and are already queuing up to take care of these children. What do you think…
Vladimir Putin: Very well.
Maria Lvova-Belova: If you allow me, I would like to continue along these lines. We have already compiled a registry for those who have documents. Some could be put into temporary accommodation, while those with Russian citizenship could settle permanently.
Vladimir Putin: Why only those with Russian citizenship? This must apply regardless of their citizenship.
Maria Lvova-Belova: There are some legal caveats here that need to be addressed.
Vladimir Putin: Just tell me what they are, and we will work to remove these barriers.
We are facing an emergency. I believe that we must focus on the interests of the children rather than think about red tape.
Maria Lvova-Belova: Of course.
Vladimir Putin: Go ahead and tell us about your proposals, and we will amend the laws accordingly. We will ask the State Duma to do its work, and I am certain that its members will support you.
Maria Lvova-Belova: Thank you very much.
As for my work, I asked you to give me some time to learn the ropes in this position and get to know what it is all about. I have now learned the ropes and immersed myself in all this, so let me share some takeaways with you.
Regarding requests from citizens, we received three thousand of them, on various topics. It is worth noting that the number of complaints about shortages of places at schools decreased six-fold. This is a substantial improvement. Please accept my gratitude for this on behalf of all the families.
Vladimir Putin: Good.
Maria Lvova-Belova: I decided that in my work, it was essential to hear what children had to say. After all, we are working for them, right? What are their dreams? What do they want?
We have a Children’s Public Council, which represents children from all the regions of Russia, under the aegis of the federal Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights. They are already hard at work and are preparing the first national forum titled We Are Against Bullying. We are proactive in reaching out to NGOs, especially in our everyday work when we need their assistance, here and now.
A parental platform, featuring leading parent organisations and associations, has been established under the Commissioner. I believe that this platform can be used for constructive interaction with the parental community, which is important.
I am paying close attention to interdepartmental cooperation because I understand that there are many overlapping issues. It is very important for us to strengthen this block as much as possible. I am grateful to my colleagues. I have held meetings with all the leaders of relevant ministries and departments, who have given me a warm welcome. We have agreed to cooperate and have already launched these efforts. Together with the Ministry of Education, we have held the first congress of commissioners dedicated to education.
Mr President, so much for our areas of work. There are many current issues, but I believe that we should give priority attention to some of them to ensure the best possible outcome. This is why we have outlined four strategic programmes.
Vladimir Putin: As a starting point, can you list them, please?
Maria Lvova-Belova: Yes, certainly. The first programme is Russia’s Teenagers. It has to do with everything that concerns teenagers, including those from risk groups.
The programme Children in the Family is focused on preventing social orphanhood and on forms of placement for orphans.
The third block, The Country for Children, is about the safety of children and a culture of caring and respect for children, so that our people understand that here there are no somebody else’s children.
And lastly, Life-Long Support is for children with disabilities and family routing, because they should know that we can provide quality support and assistance, that their families and children have a future.
Vladimir Putin: Good, let us talk in greater detail about each of these blocks.