President Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, dear colleagues,
We are meeting today to exchange views on the most important domestic and foreign policy issues our country faces, and of course, to discuss the State Duma’s upcoming plans for work.
I would like to begin by noting the State Duma’s productive work during the spring session, which saw the adoption of laws that are very important for developing our country’s civil society and political system, for creating a favourable business climate and improving the lives of our citizens. Millions of people have benefited from the simplification of real estate registration procedures – the so-called ‘dacha amnesty’. This was something we had been discussing for a long time, and the decision was finally taken.
I also note the State Duma’s constructive participation in implementing the basic provisions of the Annual Presidential Address. I know that you have established a special working group and have held five round tables on legislative requirements and support for carrying out the tasks outlined in the address. I am grateful too for the support you have shown for the initiatives proposed to address the demographic issue. I hope that the necessary amendments will be passed rapidly and that the new, higher monthly childcare benefits will have an effect.
I also ask you, in your work on the budget, to support the steps being taken to develop the social sphere. In particular, the national projects must receive adequate financial backing. As you know, the 2007 budget proposes increasing financing for these aims by 54.3 percent.
The practice of parliamentary control over the implementation of the national projects has proved a positive step. I hope that your constructive partnership with the executive authorities and above all with the Government in this area will continue.
The State Duma has a weighty portfolio of legislation before it for the upcoming session. I particularly note the work on adopting Part Four of the Civil Code. This legislation, which regulates intellectual property issues, is of principle importance for developing the innovative sector in Russia.
We will, of course, also look in detail at international affairs and I will be happy to listen to your views on these problems and your recommendations. I am grateful for the support you have shown for the action taken by the executive authorities to protect the rights, dignity and lives of our citizens abroad. This kind of consolidation of our public forces has the clear support of the majority of our people and will help us to protect the rights of our citizens in foreign countries both near and far. Naturally, these words apply in this case to Georgia, and I would not advise anyone to speak with Russia using the language of provocation and blackmail.
I note here that the national consensus on the most important international issues is one of the main supports for Russia’s foreign policy.
Incidentally, as you know, the law enforcement agencies are currently carrying out checks on people suspected of being involved in illegal activities, and a number of gambling establishments have come to the Interior Ministry’s attention. This is a good opportunity to come back to this problem in general – the problem of the gambling business. Like the spread of alcoholism among the population, this is something that also has serious moral and sometimes material consequences.
I will hand over to you today a draft law in this area, or rather, draft amendments to the existing law. I hope that the State Duma will work on it further and adopt it swiftly. It should have a radical impact on changing the situation in this area.
Another issue I would like to bring to your particular attention, and one that Boris Vyacheslavovich [Gryzlov] and I have discussed several times, including this morning, is that our economy is and must remain absolutely open and transparent. It must encourage an inflow of capital and qualified labour into our country, labour that we need, but these immigration flows must be regulated in such a way as to benefit our country and our citizens. We must ensure that our citizens do not feel that their own rights, their own participation in the labour market, are being infringed on in certain sectors of the economy and in certain other areas. We need to examine very attentively the current legislation giving foreign citizens the right to work and engage in commercial activity in Russia. We must ensure that our legislation measures up fully to international standards and make sure that it does not lag behind and end up violating the rights of the local people in different regions of the country and the rights of our citizens overall.