Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov: Vladimir Vladimirovich, the country is on the eve of important political events. First the State Duma election and then the presidential election lie ahead. The Government is playing a well coordinated part in this process and working hard in my view. I understand the political processes taking place at the moment and I would like to see you have as free a hand as possible in making decisions, including human resource decisions. I think that the right course of action would be for me to take the initiative and ask to step down from the office of prime minister in order to give you full freedom in your decisions on the shape and organisation of the power structure in connection with the upcoming political events.
I would like to thank you for the confidence and full support you have given me in my work as prime minister over more than three-and-a-half years, and I ask you to please accept my resignation.
President Vladimir Putin: Mikhail Yefimovich, I fully agree with your assessment. Under your leadership the Government of the Russian Federation has indeed accomplished a tremendous amount of work over these last years and has achieved significant and positive results. The country’s GDP has shown a good growth rate over these years, the economy has grown steadily from year to year, inflation has come down, our citizens’ real incomes have increased considerably and the implementation of major social projects has begun. These are all the results of the Government’s work under your leadership. I thank you for the work that has been accomplished.
Of course, with such a large amount of work, some mistakes and glitches have been unavoidable. I have seen how close to heart you take these moments and I think that you and all of our colleagues have tried to rectify these mistakes as quickly and effectively as possible. The country is indeed in the run up to parliamentary elections now, which will be followed soon after by the presidential election. Perhaps you are right and we should all reflect now on how to organise the power and management structure in such a way as to best adapt it to the election campaign period and ensure it can prepare the country for the period after the parliamentary election and the presidential election in March 2008.
I accept your resignation but I ask you to continue your functions until the State Duma approves a new candidate to take the office of Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Government.
Mikhail Fradkov: Thank you, Vladimir Vladimirovich, for your high assessment of the Government’s work and for the support and trust you have shown me personally. I think that this is the right decision. It is an objective decision and it will help to ensure continuation of the current policies and maintain stability in our country.