Question: Vladimir Vladimirovich, at the Science Council meeting on Friday you talked about the fact that, unfortunately, fundamental science and production are going off in different ways. How can this problem be resolved? (It seems that the S. A. Lavochkin Scientific-Production Enterprise has found a way…)
Vladimir Putin: Yes, and others have as well. We just had a meeting with some heads of other major enterprises, people with whom we had discussions at the Council for Science. But here we are witnessing how much Russia has been renewed in the past few years, everything that took place in the previous decades and that we can be proud of. Here the development prospects for space science and military space projects are clear. And the prospects are good ones. This also applies to research projects, astrophysics, and planetary exploration. I would repeat that this is first and foremost linked to the country's security. These questions are resolved by enterprises such as these. And, as we see here, these problems are being resolved in optimal fashion. I am referring to the budgetary funds, the money that the country is spending in this production and in this research. In general, I am happy with what I saw. And naturally, the leadership of the S. A. Lavochkin Scientific-Production Enterprise would like the programmes we set up together to be implemented more quickly and, perhaps, even more broadly. All of this will be reviewed in the Security Council and the government cabinet.
Question: Vladimir Vladimirovich, the State Duma elections were held on Sunday. I would like to know your opinion of the election results, and that of United Russia, the party whose list you head?
Vladimir Putin: First of all I would like to thank the citizens of Russia, all the voters, for their active participation; this was the biggest turnout of the last eight years. It was higher than in 1999, higher than in 2003. This is proof that Russian citizens are perfectly aware that a lot depends on the choices they make. A lot depends on the programmes and the parties they vote for. The vote is in and, of course, I would also like to thank everyone who voted for United Russia. And this is natural, because I headed the party list and this vote is, of course, a sign of trust in United Russia. Undoubtedly, this vote is not just in thanks for what has been done. The result is first and foremost a reflection of voters' expectations. The expectation that United Russia will continue to work constructively towards developing the country and resolving citizens' social problems. This primarily refers to salaries but also concerns pensions, benefits, demographic programmes, health care, science and education.
I hope that United Russia will not fail us.
But it is not only United Russia that has strengthened its position. United Russia has won an unquestionable success, a victory and a good one at that. United Russia received the constitutional majority in parliament and strengthened its position. It now has, I was told, some additional 12 seats. So a sizeable constitutional majority – 315 deputies in the State Duma. And not only United Russia, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation has also strengthened its position. The number of Communist deputies in the Duma has increased. The Liberal Democratic Party of the Russian Federation has also strengthened its position. And, finally, the party Fair Russia who participated in the elections for the first time ever, is in the State Duma as well.
To conclude my answer to your question I would say the following. I think that it is very important that the legitimacy of the Russian parliament increases. If the elected deputies of the former State Duma had found favour with 70 percent of the voters, the present State Duma is based on 90 percent of the votes. Only 10 percent of citizens voted for parties who didn't get seats in parliament. This means that 90 percent of the voters voted for parties that are now represented in the State Duma of the Russian Federation and this gives our Duma a high degree of legitimacy. And something I think is very important to note is that Russian citizens have shown a serious, responsible attitude towards their country's development, towards strengthening its internal political situation. It is now very obvious to me that Russians will not allow their country to develop in a destructive way, as happened in several other former Soviet republics. I see the sense of responsibility that our citizens have towards their country and, in my opinion, the most important indicator that our country is growing stronger is not economic or social, but internal political. This is, therefore, a good example and a good indicator of Russia's internal political stability.
Question: The 12th of December 2007, the date when Russia will withdraw from the CFE Treaty (Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe), is approaching. What induced Russia to take this decision, and how will the situation in this industry develop in the future?
Vladimir Putin: I have already spoken quite a bit on that subject. I can only repeat what has been said before. Russia has not simply signed the treaty, she has ratified it and observed its provisions unilaterally for many years. This situation cannot be tolerated any longer. We made this decision at a time when our partners had not implemented the treaty – and they haven't ratified it either– but, on the contrary, they have built up their military capabilities, and done so right in the immediate vicinity of our borders. Of course we have heard a lot of different justifications for this, and that everything that is done by the military near our borders is not directed against the Russian Federation, but, as they say in such cases, it is not the intentions that are important but the potential capabilities. These capabilities have not developed in our favour and this threatens the security of the Russian Federation. We are obliged to respond accordingly. However, if our partners do ratify these agreements and begin to implement them, then we are not ruling out the possibility that we also come back to them.
I would like to emphasize once again that we are not going to wait forever.
Thank you very much.