President Vladimir Putin: Yury Mikhailovich [Luzhkov], dear friends,
When the head of the country’s principle city takes office, this is always an important event, no matter what the procedures that preceded it. I am sure that, just as in the past, Yury Mikhailovich would have passed any procedure because people, and the City Duma deputies, look above all at the results of past work, whether the procedure is one of direct election or not. In the new system of electing the heads of the country’s regions, I am guided by this same principle and look above all at the results achieved, and in this case, the results are obvious.
Moscow’s economy has been growing at a rate of 10 percent over these past years. Moscow is very close to achieving the goal we all know, the goal we set ourselves not so long ago, namely to double the gross domestic product or, in Moscow’s case, the gross regional product. This is a fact.
Much credit in this work goes to the whole team that runs Moscow. This team is chosen by the mayor, of course, and the mayor himself has made a great personal contribution to achieving these results. We can all be proud of Moscow.
Moscow has become not only one of Europe’s biggest cities but also one of its most flourishing. We are proud of our capital. Moscow is pursuing not only important economic, scientific and technical objectives but is also resolving social issues.
The mayor and the city’s authorities are concentrating much attention on veterans’ needs, on housing construction and on healthcare services, and this is all vitally important, especially after the economic and social difficulties of the early 1990s. Moscow, along with the entire country, is undergoing a renaissance.
I followed closely the voting and the discussions on Yury Mikhailovich Luzhkov’s candidacy in the city’s assembly. I was pleased to see that this was not just a formality and that Yury Mikhailovich had some difficult questions to answer. I am pleased to see this because it means that the deputies are taking their work very seriously. It was clear that the mayor had prepared for this event. He has headed this city for almost fifteen years now, but it was nonetheless a test for him, and it was a test he passed with honour and dignity.
I wish all Muscovites, the city authorities, and, of course, the mayor of Moscow, success not just in building but in strengthening the capital and the whole of Russia.
I congratulate you and wish you all the very best!
Now that the official ceremony is over and the official speeches have been made, I would like to add a few informal words.
As you know, Yury Mikhailovich made what was essentially a public statement a little while back to the effect that he would like to take up some other kind of work. He has been mayor of Moscow for fifteen years now. I would not have insisted on him continuing in office were it not for the real results that we see in Moscow. This is the truth. It is also the truth that Moscow, like any other big city, still has a great many problems.
I meet quite regularly with the mayor of Moscow, but I do not often get the opportunity to meet with the entire city leadership in a format like today’s. I would like therefore to take this opportunity to say that simply following the principle or using the pretext that this is a big city with many problems and there’s nothing to be done but live with this situation is not our slogan, as they say, not our view.
We need to work on resolving these problems. We need to get rid of the bureaucratic attitudes that are still evident in Russia in general and in Moscow in particular. We cannot let ephemeral ideas of state expediency or security concerns guide our work. What is needed is concrete action, and in this we must be guided above all by the interests of concrete individuals, the interests of Muscovites, of the ordinary citizens of our country. We must keep this in mind every single day.
Yury Mikhailovich spoke about the new generation of young leaders that is emerging. I hope very much that the entire team running Moscow will work effectively and will be guided, as I said, exclusively by the interests of ordinary Russians and Muscovites. Let us think about concrete individuals in our work.