The meeting was attended by Federation Council Speaker and Chairman of A Just Russia Sergei Mironov, State Duma Speaker and Chairman of United Russia's Supreme Council Boris Gryzlov, State Duma Deputy Speaker and Chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Deputy State Duma Speaker and Deputy Chairman of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) Central Committee Ivan Melnikov, Chairman of the KPRF Central Committee and leader of the KPRF faction in the State Duma Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the LDPR faction in the State Duma Igor Lebedev, leader of A Just Russia faction in the State Duma Nikolai Levichev, acting Secretary of United Russia's General Council Presidium Sergei Neverov, and First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Vladislav Surkov.
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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: We last met in September, and now it’s already November.
Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China Wen Jiabao passes on his greetings. We have been having an intensive exchange of views with our Chinese colleagues, on economic issues, and foreign policy issues too, and so we could discuss international affairs too today. But I propose that we start as usual by discussing the subjects we originally agreed on.
Our discussion is open. We can look at any topical issues. I will outline a few matters that I think deserve our attention. You can add some comments of your own, or state your own views on various matters.
I have devoted much attention recently to the housing and utilities sector, the most critically ill sector in our life. I was on a working trip yesterday, held a meeting of the State Council Presidium, and once again saw proof that it is possible to get this sector into order at municipal and regional level, even with the modest resources available. Results can be achieved at relatively low cost. We then see the emergence of new mechanisms of running residential housing with condominiums being widely established and managing companies, if properly encouraged and supervised, performing quite well.
Yesterday, we discussed a whole number of proposals on enhancing the legislation in this area. The State Duma, as far as I know, put one of the draft laws on the housing and utilities sector, an important and complex law, through its first reading yesterday. I asked the regional governors to get involved in this process, and I hope that all of you here are working on it too, because this is a subject that should be at the centre of our attention, regardless of political persuasion. This is an issue that concerns the way of life and everyday living standards of a huge number of people. As I said, this is a very complicated issue because the sector deteriorated steadily throughout the 1990s, and it is perhaps only a few years ago that we really started to invest in it again through the special Housing and Utilities Reform Facilitation Fund. The sector is now getting investments which at the moment, probably, are not yet sufficient, but we will most certainly continue our efforts. I would like to hear your views on this matter.
As I understand it, the budget is going through its final approval today. The various parties all have their own views on the budget of course, but it remains an important instrument nevertheless. People are seldom happy with budgets in general, but it sets out the priorities that I think we need to focus on in particular, namely education and healthcare. Budget spending on education will increase by 16 percent, and healthcare spending will go up by 8 percent. These are not extraordinary increases of course, but taking into account the fairly difficult current situation and the budget deficit, this is still money to be spent as best as possible, as effectively as possible.
And finally, there is a general subject that gives us the chance to discuss everything and anything. I am in the process of preparing the annual Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly. It will cover various issues, social, economic, and foreign policy issues. I would like to hear from you on what you and your parties think are the country’s biggest development priorities today, what questions you would like this address to answer, and which issues you think should receive particular focus.
These are three subjects for discussion. We will hold our discussions behind closed doors, as usual, but you can comment on whatever you think fitting to the media afterwards, of course.