Question: I plan to vote for United Russia and for you on December 2. We will all vote for you. But I have a question: the Constitution does not allow you to run for a third term as president, so what position will you hold?
President Vladimir Putin: One of the longstanding problems in this country is that our citizens, our people, feel cut off from the authorities. People do not have trust in the authorities. This was the case during the tsarist and Soviet eras. We all got used to this state of affairs during the Soviet period. But why? Because we all thought that the soviets were a key link in the old power system, but this was not in fact the case.
The soviets were an auxiliary branch of power. Real power was in the hands of the party and all the important decisions were made in the district, city, regional and central committees of the party. But who ever saw the people making those decisions? We only ever saw them on television.
Today’s situation is completely different. The very fact that we are sitting here and talking about this now is the best proof of this. But unfortunately, along with these changes, democratic reorganisation also brought with it many negative aspects.
It’s enough to recall the early 1990s when we were promised one thing but got something completely different. We were promised prosperity within months but ended up instead with general destitution, voucher privatisation and the emergence of oligarchs who built up billion-dollar fortunes at the expense of millions of people. Our country was on the road to civil war and stood on the brink of collapse. We all remember these times. People know about these things and their lack of trust in the authorities is understandable.
Now, what is United Russia? Is it an ideal organisation? No, of course not. The party has not yet developed a stable ideology and set of principles for which the majority of party members would be ready to fight and upon which they would stake their authority. The party has does not yet have a unified ideological platform, but it is close to power, close to the regional authorities, to the governors, and close too, to the federal authorities, the Government and the President. Organisations of this sort generally attract all sorts of chance people looking for a way up, and they often succeed in this pursuit. Their goal is not to serve the people’s interests, but to seek personal enrichment, and their activities inevitably compromise the authorities and the party itself.
You could ask yourselves then, why did I decide in this situation to head United Russia’s list? First of all, there was not any better option on offer. Second, the party needs more time, of course, to develop and grow stronger. Finally, the results we have achieved recently (and there have been results, otherwise I would not be here now listening to you tell me how you are ahead of schedule in the work on this large-scale undertaking), were made possible in large part because in my practical work I had the support of United Russia in the parliament, and this was very important. It was important to have this consolidated force that not only helped me to make decisions but also helped to make them reality.
Finally, and most importantly, it was United Russia that made infrastructure development one of its priorities. It was United Russia that made decisions on the national projects to develop education, healthcare and the agriculture sector. It was United Russia that set the objective of developing our defence capability and modernising the Armed Forces. And it was United Russia that adopted the three-year budget that sets out expenditure, item by item, for the next three years. All of this involved difficult battles in the parliament, despite the fact that people see the party as the ‘party of power’. Every figure was carefully analysed and calculated.
It would be enough for those who say, “we know how to do things better” to take the reins, and everything we have built up could collapse. This is what worries me most of all, and this is why, despite all the problems that still remain, I decided to head United Russia’s list, in order to persuade people to vote for this party and help form a majority in the State Duma that would be able to work in common cause with the executive authorities, with the Government.
I want to add that the State Duma has a direct influence on the Government’s formation because it is the Duma that either approves or rejects the president’s proposed nominee for prime minister. If we achieve a spirit of unity between the executive and legislative branches of power we will have every chance of being able to carry out all of the plans set out in the laws currently being passed.
As for me personally, it has long been said that victory goes not to he who represents strength but to he who represents truth, and there is profound meaning in these words. If people vote for United Russia, the party whose list I head, if the overwhelming majority of citizens vote for this party, this will give me the moral right to hold accountable those who will be working in the Duma and the Government for the implementation of the decisions made today. How exactly will I do this? I would prefer not to give a direct answer to that question for now. There are various possibilities, and if we succeed in achieving the results I hope for, I will have this possibility. And I would like to thank you for your intention to vote for United Russia.