Vladimir Putin: Dear friends!
We are in the days leading up to Christmas and the New Year, a holiday that brings together families and loved ones, and we are opening the Year of the Family in Russia. And it is meaningful for us that this opening event is taking place before a special audience.
People that have gathered for this special evening are well aware of the value of the family, and the inevitable care that relatives and loved ones show.
Mothers and fathers who have borne many children are gathered here today. There are young families and senior citizens who already have young grandchildren. There are also people who work in orphanages and open their hearts to children who have lost their parents. These are people who care, and their personal actions demonstrate that there is no such thing as a child that belongs to someone else.
As each of you knows from personal experience, it is difficult to create wealth, comfort and warmth in a home. And each of your families has strong foundations and are further strengthened by enormous daily efforts, work, patience and responsibility. And it is extremely important that the forthcoming Year of the Family help revive precisely this responsibility, and a responsible and respectful attitude towards family values.
I think that you will agree that continuing these traditions is very much required in modern Russia. Indeed, the more families live in peace and harmony, the stronger they are united by common goals, values and moral standards, the more humane our society will be. And when we talk about the prestige and dignity of our country, then to a great extent we are referring to the moral values and dignity of every individual, including our youngest citizens.
All these qualities originate in the family. And already from childhood people learn their first lessons with regards to respect for their elders in the family. This is where their eyes are opened and they learn a valuable lesson, namely one that begins with the Motherland. Since it is precisely in the family circle that very first civil impulses, love for one’s country, and understanding for the history and culture of the Fatherland are felt.
And on the contrary, an indifferent attitude to society and underestimating the family’s role are encouraged by despicable practices such as abandoning and neglecting children. And in general these practices have a negative effect on demographic trends in Russia.
You are well aware that in recent years we have begun to implement national social projects in health care, education and housing. These fields are certainly fundamental ones for any family. And long-term demographic policy measures should play a special role in this respect.
For the first time in Russian history a so-called maternity capital has been introduced. And this is not only a first for Russia but for other countries as well. Birth certificates are being paid. Basic medical facilities are improving.
Since the beginning of 2007 there are increased allowances for childcare. Similar benefits have been introduced for mothers that stay at home. And I already said that we will index these allowances to inflation.
All of this is yielding results. In just 10 months of this year more than 1,300,000 long-awaited children were born in Russia, and this is 8 per cent more than in 2006.
The necessary conditions for working parents are being implemented. Expenses on kindergartens are now partially reimbursed. The salary received for acting as foster parents have almost doubled.
The wages that adoptive parents receive have also increased. This is because education within the family to a large extent determines what kind of person a child will grow up to be. Neither the state nor even the best teachers (and thank God they exist!) can replace the family.
And next year we are going to continue to organize the fate of orphans. We are going to improve legislation with regards to foster care and guardianship so that this process is quicker and, most importantly, for the benefit of children.
We expect to achieve visible results quickly, ie. in the short term. And the newly-created Fund to help address the problems of children in difficult circumstances has work ahead of it, and it will carry out its work with dignity.
And there is yet another piece of news that is especially important for young people. The government is now examining the issue of increasing the age of those who participate in housing programmes for young families from 30 to 35 years.
As you can imagine, all these measures are not only relevant to the Year of the Family. It is equally important that the aims and objectives of this Family Year be developed in the future and that we find new and effective directions for this work.
In keeping with a long tradition, may the coming New Year’s holiday allow you to once again gather all generations around the common table, give you warmth, cheer and a feeling of good will.
May the year 2008 be a happy one for your families, and may your children and grandchildren bring you new successes
May 2008 bring health and well-being to the Russian family! All the best!