The meeting focused on the impact of wildfires and drought of the past summer, the issues of assistance to farmers, and food prices, as well as plans for the State Duma’s legislative efforts during the autumn session.
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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Colleagues,
The new political season has begun. Yesterday and the day before many of you participated in the Global Policy Forum in Yaroslavl. I think the forum was interesting, and many speeches, including your speeches (I watched some of them on TV), and speeches by political analysts and experts were very informative.
In any case, I believe it is very important that Russia has such a global venue, where we can discuss democracy issues, the development of the political system, and not just the economy, as is the custom in other places. And most importantly, the proceedings are conducted in a completely open mode. A number of laws have been adopted in this regard with your direct participation. The last portion of the initiatives that I had put forward, some of them after discussions with you – I mean the bill on absentee ballots – is now being debated in Parliament. I hope that after its adoption many of the problems that existed in the past, or the doubts that many among you felt about the election results, will be removed. And our legislation will be better prepared for the next elections.
The summer was extremely difficult because of the wildfires that raged in our country, and unfortunately, they have not been extinguished everywhere yet. This has created a number of major challenges for the country. I therefore propose that we exchange views on how we can continue to implement measures on forestry support and on assistance to agricultural producers.
Unfortunately, people died in these fires. A large number of people have lost their homes, and now we are building housing for them. Incidentally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the political forces that have responded to this disaster, and it is a national disaster, and transferred their donations to help the people affected. We have several accounts, the Civic Chamber handles one of them, and I know parties have opened other accounts. So all this has to be finalised and funds should be transferred to the people and for the purposes these accounts were intended for.
The situation on the food market has deteriorated because of the fires. I have held four or five meetings on this subject and visited different cities and I can say that in general the situation is completely under control and stable, but there are some problems. Some of them are objective, but others are just subjective. We need to consider how to support agricultural producers in this situation. Some decisions have already been adopted, and I have issued instructions to the Government, some of which I formulated in the course of the meetings, to improve the situation. I also would like to hear your proposals, because our current goal is not to negate everything that was done in agriculture in recent years. We have seen some favourable, positive changes there.
All the people I spoke with, all the farmers, including representatives of large agricultural companies and small farmers, some of them owners of private farms, are, of course, interested in seeing continued investment in rural areas, which has become steady in in recent years. They want us to provide assistance in situations when there are persistent problems, such as the catastrophic drought, which led to a significant failure of the crops.
A separate issue is monitoring the situation in the regions. You are the leaders of parliamentary parties, you are always communicating with people. You just have to keep an eye on the situation in retail trade, make sure that profiteers don’t go too far and that everything is being monitored not only by the state but also the parties and civil society in our country, because it is a job we should do together.
There is also the modernisation agenda. At present the State Duma has under its consideration the bill on Skolkovo innovation centre. It has already passed through two readings, and it is time to pass it. I hope that we are united on this issue because all of you probably agree that we must modernise our production, our industry, we must introduce new technologies, use new materials, attract professionals, better train our engineers and look for foreign experts to help with our modernisation. Therefore, I hope we will all work together on this issue, work towards the creation of the draft law and subsequent documents, subsequent laws, if necessary.