President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon dear friends, dear colleagues!
As we normally do on these occasions, we will be discussing topical issues concerning the development of legislation and law-making in our country, but focussing of course on the economic and social spheres, where we now have serious problems.
Before we begin, I would like to thank all of you for playing such an active role in the work, which has been carried out by the Federation Council in support of the initiatives contained in the Presidential Address [to the Federal Assembly], and of course the most important of those initiatives involves amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation.
The Federation Council has taken an active part in compiling the decisions of legislative bodies in the different regions of our country. Because this was done so quickly, we managed to complete the procedure before the end of last year, which is important in light of the need to observe the constitutional process very carefully. The constitution is such a delicate instrument that changing it involves very careful monitoring.
I am grateful to the Federation Council for the interest that you have personally taken in the President’s initiative in so far as it affects your interests, and for your support for the federal law that will change the procedure of forming the Federation Council. I would like to emphasise that this is not simply a procedural innovation. We have discussed in various formats the formation of the Federation Council and the ideas that can be put to use in this process.
This is a fundamentally new approach to the formation of the Federation Council. Its goal is to ensure continuous and productive contact between members of the Federation Council and their regions. Now after the entry into force of the relevant law, representatives of the regions in the upper house will be people who are well-known in their constituencies, who have successfully emerged from the crucibles of democratic elections and are experts on every aspect of regional policy.
I want to dwell on yet one more point. As you know, yesterday I submitted four candidacies for the office of regional governor in several constituencies of the Federation. This is part of a process that involves the rotation of personnel, and I would particularly like to emphasise that in a situation where the economic crisis continues or even gets worse, the regional leaders will be required to show that they can work in this new environment, work as part of a team and demonstrate high executive discipline. These abilities will be required of everyone and this represents a different sort of demand. This is no time to relax.
There is another issue that relates to our work. The economy is in a difficult situation and the task of putting together the budget – and this you know firsthand because you have been working on it – is going to be difficult, therefore we have to think about the possibility of reducing public spending at all levels in relation to the activities of any public authority.
I would like the Federation Council to think about and make the appropriate recommendations to the legislative assemblies of the regions of the Federation. And you should begin with yourselves. Therefore I want to suggest that every government agency make proposals on this topic.
The Presidential Executive Office is not a very big organisation, but it should set an example. (Turning to Sergei Naryshkin, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office) Sergei Yevgenyevich, please prepare proposals for reducing public expenditure with respect to the activities of the Presidential Executive Office.
The process of creating a pool of high potential managers is ongoing. Today we’ll be announcing the names of the first hundred people in it, the presidential hundred. They have been approved and I will be meeting with them shortly. This is also a very important process that we must all deal with at the level of the Russian Federation, and in the regions of the Federation, because we have agreed to establish a personnel reserve for the entire country.
I would like to stress once again the importance of the role of the Federation Council in the implementation of anti-crisis measures. The current economic situation calls for prompt decisions. The Federation Council and the State Duma are already working very closely with the Government Cabinet. Of course all these matters need to be discussed, but the main thing for us is not to get mired in these discussions, but rather to quickly find an acceptable solution for the pressing financial, economic and social challenges we all face today.
The whole world is now forced to work in this rapidly changing situation. We do not have time to discuss fundamental laws designed to go into force ten years from now. We have the basic structure of legal system, thank God, and it has proved to be eminently serviceable.
Over the past 18 years we have radically changed our legal system. The Soviet system has been replaced by a modern one. But we must quickly and competently respond to the challenges that we now face. If a new statute is required as a matter of urgency, we need to create it. You are already working in this manner, and I would like to thank you for this, because in certain cases time is the most important consideration. In any case, we can always fix the legislation in question or make changes in the existing law.
At a recent meeting with the leaders of parliamentary factions, I discussed the issue of the timely implementation of government decisions which are linked to the crisis, including the problem of adopting legislation issued by the Cabinet. We know that these ordinances are often delayed. The ministries and departments often fail to submit them in a timely fashion.
In this regard, it was suggested to me that we need a special regulatory technique whereby a draft bill must be submitted along with a set of related subordinate legislation. I think that is the right way to go about it. And it needs to be done. Perhaps I’ll sign a special order to this effect.
I also think that the Federation Council could propose mechanisms to ensure the smooth functioning of the various levels of government in our country and the different levels of the legal system, including of course relying on the capacities of the Council of Legislators. We need to carefully analyze the impact of the crisis and the ways of combating it that are being implemented in certain regions.
Admittedly the regions have responded with varying degrees of success to these challenges, but this is not surprising. The most efficient and most effective methods should be used throughout the country. We need to determine what they are and go about applying them. Incidentally I think that we should discuss these issues at the next meeting of the Council of Legislators. This would be a good idea and this is what we might call an absolutely topical issue – I cannot think of anything more topical.
You must also pay attention to the issue of facilitating feedback. We understand how difficult it can be to deal with all the red tape in our country. You represent the regions and therefore all the people who live in the regions, and in fact that is where the important work needs to be done.
In addition, people should know the contents, meaning and overall significance of the measures proposed by the state. We must explain to the people of Russia the essence of the anti-crisis measures, as well as the substance of those decisions that are aimed at improving the legal and political system of our country.
In general terms this is a ceaseless, constant challenge for those in power, but the crisis faced by our country and by the most developed countries in the world constitutes a particularly important task. I will be dedicating my efforts and the Cabinet’s efforts to this and I appeal to you to do the same.
I suppose that that sets out what I would like to discuss with you today, dear friends. Once again thank you for joint efforts in this regard.