President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon colleagues,
We meet regularly – at least twice a year. Our last such meeting was in February 2009. Meetings make sense only if they produce concrete results, and judging by the report that the Presidential Executive Office has prepared for me, the instructions I gave to the Cabinet and other bodies have been implemented. And you, the Federation Council, were involved in implementing a number of these measures.
Let me remind you what we discussed. We discussed the criteria for identifying draft bills which require bylaws and regulations to be prepared at the appropriate stages of legislative process. These decisions have been taken but, to be frank, are not yet being implemented. We must talk about this because I cannot recall a single serious case when the adoption of a law was preceded by introduction of a full set of bylaws.
I understand well that this is a difficult task for the Cabinet and various departments but, on the other hand, we must strive to ensure that our legislative process is not drawn out for years. We must avoid situations when the fundamental documents appear first and then only within a few years does the Cabinet or departments grudgingly adopt the bylaws.
Nevertheless, the general procedure has been set. We introduced additional criteria for assessing the work of regional executive bodies in providing public access to information about their activities, and you were among those who suggested that we should do it.
Monitoring anti-crisis measures in the regions took place in February, right in the midst of the crisis, during what was perhaps the most dramatic part of it, and we were all involved, both the Cabinet and the regions. So what we agreed in this regard has also been accomplished.
Important suggestions have been made – and this was also discussed at our meeting – concerning the ability of the President of Russia to use our Armed Forces beyond the country’s borders. We talked about other issues, in particular whether or not it makes sense to extend the validity term of passports for travelling abroad. This change is currently being arranged.
There was another instruction about securing the supply of medicines for those who live in places where there are no pharmacies. And I recall how we discussed this very problem. It is also about to be resolved. The relevant document was developed by the Health Ministry and submitted to the Cabinet for consideration. It will be taken up in November.
So this is a list of the very specific results brought about by our joint work. I think this is very, very important.
I have already mentioned that last week amendments to the law on defence were approved, ones that I introduced to the Parliament on your initiative. The idea is to create a legal mechanism that would allow the President of Russia to make quick decisions on the use of Russia’s Armed Forces beyond its borders. You’ll recall in which circumstances this problem arose.
I now think that from a legal point of view this matter has been resolved. Of course such decisions would only be made in absolutely extraordinary situations and obviously only if they were absolutely necessary. But as recent experience has shown, we need this sort of legal framework. All of this is predicated on the eternal principle that our citizens must be protected everywhere in the world and must feel that their country is there to defend them.
We also agreed that the Federation Council will coordinate the legislative activity of the regional parliaments. I know that the Federation Council has already signed an agreement on cooperation with the legislative assemblies of almost half the country’s regions and we can talk more about this.
Well, probably the most important thing for me and for you is the Presidential Address [to the Federal Assembly] which will be delivered shortly. We are currently working on it and processing numerous suggestions. On the President’s website alone there have been about 16 thousand applications, requests and proposals from Russian citizens, non-governmental organisations and associations. I am sure that you have your own proposals for the Address, touching on both conceptual issues and specifics. So if need be, let's discuss them.
I think that’s enough to get the conversation started – let’s get down to work.