The congress will approve the party’s election campaign programme and present party lists of candidates for the upcoming State Duma election.
* * *
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, friends,
I welcome the delegates and guests at this United Russia congress.
This congress is an important stage in the election campaign. Today, you will decide on the campaign programme and the list of candidates for the State Duma election. This really is a fundamental moment because it lets the voters see who you propose for this election and what they offer.
The voters want to see victory go to respected and professional candidates who understand people’s needs and want to take part in selfless and productive work for the good of the country and its people.
The United Russia candidates you will put forward must possess all of these qualities. I hope too that they will set the example in honest and fair competition.
United Russia is doing much to make this election campaign open and legitimate. In May, you held a preliminary vote to select party candidates. This was the first time you held such large-scale primaries: more than 10 million people took part.
This openness is a clear manifestation of United Russia’s commitment to the principles of direct democracy, and the party has obtained its first and very important result for the upcoming campaign in the form of strong new candidates for the State Duma.
The party bears full responsibility for all whose names will appear on its party list. But the candidates must be aware too that everything they say and do affects the party’s reputation, and they must support and boost this reputation.
All party candidates in this election, especially those standing in single-seat districts, must not forget that they represent not just themselves, but the country’s biggest political party and prominent political force, and must act always and in everything in people’s interests. This is your job.
Colleagues, United Russia is holding its 15th congress today. The party itself is marking the same age. This is not a long time really, but at the same time, it is already quite an age for a big, serious political force. Over these years, the party has come our country’s biggest and most influential. This trust was won at great effort, and you must do all you can to keep it now.
I remember well the circumstances surrounding United Russia’s creation. We all remember that this was my initiative. Yes, I initiated this party’s creation. It was very much needed at that point in our country’s life, primarily for strengthening our statehood and consolidating society.
You all remember well the state our country was in at that time. We faced a real threat of disintegration. Politically and legally, the country was a real patchwork. As for the North Caucasus, it was all but shut off behind terrorist aggression against Russia.
There is no point in making a secret of the fact that many people’s heads had become a muddle by then, where good and evil, honesty and betrayal had become a great confusion. A large part of the economy and a number of important state institutions were controlled by oligarchic or outright criminal organisations.
Our task was to change and rectify this situation, strengthen the Constitution and essentially get the state working again, strengthen its territorial integrity and federal foundations and overcome the divisions in our society. We could achieve these objectives only with the support of a strong and consolidated political force, and it was United Russia that gave the impetus for putting the country back together back then.
At the same time, the party played a big part in achieving public consensus on strategic development issues, and this enabled us to carry out deep-reaching economic and social transformations, including launching the priority national projects and a large-scale demographic programme. I mention too the importance of forming a clear and reliable legal base. The United Russia parliamentary faction and its deputies in the regional legislative assemblies have played a decisive role in this work.
At the foundation of United Russia’s politics and ideology are respect for our multi-ethnic people’s traditions, culture and history and a deep understanding of Russia’s national interests and the ability to stand up for them in worthy and competent fashion. Commitment to basic values such as patriotism, truth and justice and national unity combines with a healthy conservatism and an openness to change, which is always needed in life, and today in particular.
The voters gave United Russia their trust. This success has stood the test of time and been confirmed by your accomplishments in concrete work and your responsibility for fulfilling your campaign promises. I am sure that we will find solutions to whatever difficulties and tasks come our way, but only if we listen to the people. Only then will be able to achieve our goals.
Friends, I want to appeal to all political forces that will take part in the election campaign and to all those who will be candidates in the elections to the State Duma and to regional legislative assemblies, and who run for the post of regional governor or stand for election to municipal office.
I ask you to cherish people’s trust, make only promises you can actually keep, and value the political and social stability we have achieved over these last years. Only if we have national harmony and consensus can we move forward after all. Only then can we achieve our plans and change people’s lives for the better.
The most dangerous thing today would be to speculate on the current difficulties. I am not talking about criticism of the authorities; criticism is necessary and essential, and we will see criticism, of course. Election campaigns are precisely the moment when criticism is particularly harsh and direct. This is fine and is a normal thing. In the vast majority of cases it has a positive part to play.
What I am talking about is something else: lies and distortion of the facts, direct betrayal of the country’s interests, and empty promises that are worse than any betrayal, have no substance to back them up and are born out of nothing more than a desire to destabilise the situation, divide society and claw a way to power at any price, and never mind about what might follow. This is most dangerous and we cannot allow it. We must do everything possible to avoid such a development of events.
Friends, society is becoming increasingly actively involved in the political process and voters have become more demanding. I am sure that United Russia is ready to meet this challenge. The party must discuss all issues with the public, even the most difficult-looking problems. They must understand what worries people most and listen to everyone’s voice. This is the Duma deputies’ duty.
Life is moving very fast and we need a deeper understanding of the full complexity of the challenges before us today, need to know how to respond to them, what measures to take. This is what it means to be a leader. The task today is to concentrate on key areas and breakthrough projects that will ensure our country’s dynamic development and our citizens’ prosperity.
These areas include social development, a favourable environment for life in the cities and the countryside, and continuation of the work we accomplished through the national projects, only at a qualitatively new level. Of course, steady economy growth in all different areas is another priority.
As you know, we decided to establish a presidential council for strategic development and priority projects, and it will hold its first meeting soon. I am sure and I know that Dmitry Medvedev, who will head this council’s presidium, will give us more detail today on the concrete initiatives we plan to carry out.
The party’s campaign programme matches in full the scale of the tasks before Russia today. I therefore count on close cooperation with you. We all need a strong, independent, open and prosperous Russia, where all can realise their potential, develop their talents and opportunities, where government and citizens support and respect each other, and where public harmony and consensus and solidarity with the country’s interests are higher than any differences. After all, what is most important for us all are the people, the ordinary people in the towns and villages, the people who are bearers of our languages, traditions and culture.
These are all hard-working people, people with efforts and successes behind them, or who are working and striving now. But we all know that many, many people here still live very difficult lives and they look to you with hope and trust that you will not just preserve but develop and multiply all that makes us unique, develop this civilisation we hold so dear to our hearts, which is called Russia. Do not dash their hopes and do not let them down. (Applause)
Thank you for your attention!