President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Father Alexander.
Archpriest Alexander Tkachenko: Hello, Mr President.
Vladimir Putin: Hello.
The Foundation was created more than a year ago on January 5, 2021, by Presidential Executive Order #16. It is supported by the funds consolidated in the federal budget, namely, an elevated personal income tax on individuals with annual incomes in excess of 5 million rubles.
I am aware that the Foundation is operating steadily with even more funds than expected, 82 billion, in its accounts, so it is properly funded. I am aware that you have questions about its future work, and you compiled a report covering the past year. Please go ahead, I am listening. I think much has been accomplished, and the work is being carried out effectively. I am also aware that you have questions concerning the further improvement of this highly noble cause designed to help children with severe, life-threatening chronic diseases, including rare ones, and this is much-needed work.
You have been engaged in this work for a long time now. I am aware that you started out with a children's hospice in St Petersburg. The Circle of Kindness’ activities must be planned so that it can accomplish all the tasks at hand.
Please go ahead, Father Alexander. I am listening to you.
Alexander Tkachenko: Thank you very much.
I would like to begin by thanking you for creating our country’s kindest foundation, which has become a true miracle for many people. You have on your desk an album with photographs of children – a very small number of them – who received help from the Foundation. There are more than 3,000 such children.
The Foundation receives very touching messages and videos from the parents, in which they thank the Foundation for giving hope to their children – they now have a hope for the future, have proper childhood and can go back to their everyday routine of playing and studying.
The Foundation has embodied society’s ideas about justice. All sums received from the increased tax rate go to the Foundation. All citizens of Russia, regardless of their place of residence or social status of their family, can have access to the latest medications.
I will tell you about this, if I may. These unique medications bring children back to life. Spinal muscular atrophy was the first illness under review. Now children have access to all three medications. It takes the foundation all but 10 days to arrange for the most expensive injection that is prescribed for all children who have been just diagnosed with this illness. It saves their lives. The introduction of neonatal screening will reveal many ill children, and the Foundation will save their lives. This is why the Foundation is unique.
The Foundation has medications that restore the eyesight of children with a form of retinal degeneration. There are medications that allow children with a cartilage development disorder to grow to the average height. This is vital for a child’s dignity and future.
The main point is that assistance is guaranteed. Before parents had to look for this aid and even appeal to courts, whereas now the Foundation buys medications for a year ahead and even for the first quarter of the next year to ensure continuity.
The Foundation has started supplying medications to Russian citizens living in the Donetsk People’s Republic. This is also very important.
Cooperation with NGOs allows us to plan joint actions and find patients that regional healthcare systems fail to see for some reason.
In turn, the Foundation conducts seminars and lectures for doctors.
I am trying to describe the Foundation’s major activities with these short facts. In reality, the Foundation has turned into a real miracle, and if it were not for it, it is difficult even to imagine what life would be like for many families.
As for the Foundation’s development, you instructed us to analyse the possibility of providing medications to children after they reach the age of 18. The Foundation’s reserves make it possible to raise this age. If you support us, the Foundation will draft amendments to legal regulations, and we will be able to provide children with medications up to the end of the calendar year or even longer. This will allow the regions to change their budgets accordingly and ensure continuity. Many people are waiting for this decision.
Vladimir Putin: Let’s do as you suggest. How much did you plan? 60 billion rubles? And in reality you have 80 billion, right?
Alexander Tkachenko: Eighty. Taking into account the money saved from the past year, the budget amounts to 122 billion.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, let’s do it.
Alexander Tkachenko: There will be just 70–100 children a year in this category. It is very important to ensure that medical treatment is not interrupted. Otherwise, all results will be lost.
Vladimir Putin: I understand.