Vladimir Putin: Dear friends!
First of all I would like to express my gratitude to all those who have come here today, and to all those who are not here, but who are working for a common goal: for the victory of United Russia in the elections to the State Duma on December 2 of this year.
Representatives from all regions of the country are here, people of different ages, occupations and beliefs. We have come together to support United Russia.
The importance of the December 2nd elections to the State Duma for the future of the country is absolutely obvious. This is not only because the new parliament will have to do its work during a crucial period for Russia’s recovery, years when the largest projects we have identified in recent years will have to be implemented.
The vital importance of these elections is also bound up with the fact that they are taking place a few months before the election of the new Russian Head of State. And if we win in December, then we will win the presidential election in March of next year.
Dear friends! For this renewal — just think of it, in the next few months there will be a complete renewal in Russia at the highest levels of government – for this renewal to take place the way it should, for this process to succeed, for it to benefit the country, for it to create a new parliament and a president that can work effectively with each other and work for the benefit of all citizens of Russia, all we have to do is win.
We have to do everything possible to face our biggest challenge.
What is it? What is our biggest challenge?
It’s the necessity of maintaining the momentum of stable, sustainable development in our country. And we have to protect the prosperity and security of our Fatherland.
As you know (and you must know this), I have never been directly involved in a political campaign of this kind before. Of course you could say that the business of the President necessarily involves publicity. But this results, as it should, from the performance of specific tasks, the execution of official duties, and is not normally related to political advertising, which, frankly, I do not always like. And let us also say openly that United Russia itself is not yet an ideal political tool. We have a lot to do to make it work better.
Nevertheless, I agreed to head the United Russia party list. I did this deliberately. I believe that in this way I can help form a competent and reputable legislature.
I believe we have no right to allow the State Duma to become a mob of populists, paralyzed by corruption and demagoguery. We have to prevent what happened before in our country from taking place again.
I repeat: the country needs, not a populist parliament, but a responsible one, working in the interests of all its citizens. And that is why United Russia, with your support, must win a majority in the State Duma.
We need this in order to make full use of the constitutional powers of the Federal Assembly, to take an active part in shaping the future policy of the government, the Central Bank, the judiciary and the regional authorities.
This is simply necessary to effectively protect our plans for strengthening Russia. Without a functioning parliament, we will not be able to ensure development in the economic sector, in science, education, health or culture.
Of course, in order to achieve the stated objectives of United Russia itself, as I just said, the party should be updated and reformed. There is a need to expand internal debates and to attract young people like you. The party itself should be flexible, resilient and responsive to public opinion.
Undoubtedly in the upcoming elections, people will express their level of confidence and support for what we have done so far. They will assess what has been and is being done, as well as our plans for the future.
Therefore, on 2 December not only do the deputies receive their new mandates but also the main issue will be addressed: whom to entrust with the implementation of plans for the development of Russia.
Dear friends, we have done a lot together. We have strengthened Russia’s sovereignty and restored its integrity. We have restored the rule of law and the supremacy of the Constitution. Despite heavy losses and casualties, thanks to the courage and unity of the Russian people, international terrorist aggressions against our homeland have been repelled. There is still a large and difficult task ahead of us, but we have turned the tide.
Now a couple of words on the economy. The increase in gross domestic product in the last eight years has been 70 percent. The total capitalization of Russian companies has increased by a factor of 30. Just think about what that figure represents. The Russia that we have been discussing today has retaken its place as one of the top ten economies of the world. And this is just the beginning. Independent experts at home and abroad are absolutely convinced that, if the current rate of development continues, if the momentum of economic growth is maintained, within 10 years Russia will be one of the top five economies in the world. And we are determined to make this happen.
The situation in the social sphere has changed dramatically. Real wages (adjusted for inflation) have grown threefold. Thanks to an active social policy, mortality rates are declining. For the first time in recent years the birth rate is increasing. (And I am very much counting on this audience to help in this too.)
Dear friends! We have fully settled our foreign debts. This is important. We have accumulated significant material and financial resources. Now we are able to use the additional hundreds of billions of rubles to raise pensions and wages, to restructure our industry in innovative ways, and to improve science, education and health care.
Much of the money will go to the construction of roads and resettlement of people currently living in dilapidated housing, and simply for housing, including housing for young families. And, of course, to strengthen our armed forces.
That is the plan we have worked out. All these and many other programmes are scheduled for years into the future. And, I repeat, we have the resources for their implementation.
But if everything on this schedule is not to drown in populist chitchat, we have to win the election.
And now, dear friends, I want to say something to you, to those who are gathered in this room, and to all the citizens of the country. I want to warn you: nothing has been decided once and for all. Social stability, economic recovery, even peace in our land, the admittedly modest, but clear rise in living standards – all these things haven’t fallen from the sky. And unfortunately there is as yet no means by which such things can be unconditionally, automatically assured. This is the result of constant, sometimes bitter, tough political struggle, both domestically and internationally, a conflict of interests. Both you and the whole Russian people must involve yourselves in this struggle.
Those who oppose us do not want to implement our plan. Because they have other plans and a different view of Russia. They need a weak nation, a sick nation. They need a disorganized and disoriented society, a divided society, so that they can covertly work out their deals and receive their reward at our expense. And, unfortunately, we still have people in the country who live by begging at foreign embassies and foreign diplomatic missions. They count on the support of foreign funds and governments, rather than the support of their own people.
Of course, we are all aware of the problems. But there are those who are speculating on them. We all know about them. Many of our pensioners and veterans are still poor, undeservedly so. Villages and small towns are disproportionately lagging behind mega-cities and large industrial centres in terms of quality of life, as they were a decade ago. Our defense industry, the army and the navy need greater investment and more attention generally. The tide has turned, but terrorism has not been definitively stamped out. Corruption, drugs and organized crime are losing ground, but more slowly than one would wish. Teachers and health workers deserve higher wages.
All of this is true. The government really has made mistakes. You can and should criticize it for that. We see the problems ourselves and we are working to resolve them.
But the political speculation on these difficulties has caused at the very least some perplexity. And who is responsible for it? Those who for decades had guided Russia, and at the end of the 1980s left people without the most basic services and goods: no sugar, no meat, no salt, no matches. And of course their policies were responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union.
There has also been speculation on the part of those who only a decade ago controlled key positions in the Federal Assembly and the government cabinet. These are the people who occupied high positions in the 90s and acted to the detriment of society and the state, served the interests of oligarchic structures and bargained away our national assets. These are the ones who are telling us how to live today, the ones who, by the way, made corruption the principal means of economic and political competition. These are the ones who year after year accepted unbalanced, totally irresponsible budgets, finally resulting in default, collapse and a precipitous fall in living standards for the citizens of our country.
Was it not these opponents of ours who contemptuously described domestic agriculture as a black hole and denied the need for state support for villages?
And it was they who in due course reduced funding for science and defense, insisting on a totally unfounded, radical reduction of our armed forces.
These are the ones who for years failed to pay child allowances, pensions and wages, who during the worst period of terrorist attacks on Russia treacherously called for negotiations, and in fact for collusion with the terrorists, with those who killed our women and children. They gambled with the lives of the victims in the most shameless and cynical way.
In short, it is all those who at the end of the last century brought mass poverty and an epidemic of corruption to Russia, something we have been fighting ever since.
And do not labour under any illusions, dear friends! All these people have not left the political scene. You will find their names among the sponsors and the candidates of a number of parties. They want to take revenge, to return to power, to regain their spheres of influence, and to gradually restore an oligarchical regime based on corruption and lies. They are lying even today. They will not do anything for anyone, including the pensioners whom they robbed repeatedly when they were in power. Now they have even taken to the streets. They have learned a little from Western specialists and have trained in neighbouring republics. Now they will organize provocations here.
Overall, I think that there can be no doubt: these gentlemen can only do one thing if returned to power, rob millions of people again, fill their pockets, and do so with their characteristic brilliance and cynicism. Of that there can be no doubt.
Today, everyone can see that Russia has accumulated vast resources. Some want to take it all away again, divide it up, and then reduce it to rock bottom. They have done this more than once in the past. Still others want to ransack and steal everything again.
I appeal to you, to all like-minded people, to everyone who wants to make Russia a strong and prosperous country, a country of free and happy people, a country open to an honest dialogue with all peoples of the world.
On December 2nd the fate of the country will in large measure be decided. Be sure to participate in the elections and vote for United Russia.
We need your support.
We need to continue the transformation already begun so that in every city, in every village, in every street, in every house and in the life of each Russian real changes for the better take place. So that the people in our country have confidence in the future and live in dignity. That is the life that befits the citizens of a great country.
Thank you! I am counting on you.