President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends,
Today, we are marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, held under UN auspices, and we are meeting to discuss issues of concern to people with health impairments and tasks that we have to address together.
I expect that our colleagues from the Government will also become directly involved in this work. In any event, I hope that the regions will hear you, will hear all subjects that we will discuss today because a considerable part of the work is conducted at the regional level.
Undoubtedly, the attitude towards people with health impairments is an indicator of society’s and state’s maturity. This is a common rule and a well-known principle. We have discussed this many times, and we know this very well. This is also a criterion of humaneness and efficiency of social policy and organisation in all spheres of life.
Let me remind you that the amendments to the Constitution adopted by a nationwide vote in the summer of 2020 formalise provisions dealing with the social protection and security of people with disabilities, based on the complete and equal protection of their human rights and citizens’ rights and freedoms and the inadmissibility of any forms of discrimination.
I consider it very important that it was representatives of public organisations who initiated this amendment, as well as many other changes to the Fundamental Law. By the way, a proposal to hold our today’s meeting was voiced in a conversation with members of a working group on drafting amendments to the Constitution.
I am convinced that the best and most effective decisions emerge in precisely this manner, that is, in direct and open dialogue with civil society representatives. It is also necessary to implement specific guarantees, now enshrined in the Constitution, in close cooperation with public associations of people with disabilities.
Let me emphasise: a considerate attitude to the interests and needs of people with disabilities, people with limited mobility, should be an absolutely natural norm, something we do not even need to be reminded of.
This also applies to the reform of the supervision and control bodies, the so-called regulatory guillotine, to the employment market trends and of course, to the implementation of national projects, especially the part that concerns creating a comfortable urban environment. This applies to development and improvement projects, and to rezoning urban spaces – absolutely all projects need to strictly comply with barrier-free requirements.
I would like to bring this to the attention of my colleagues in the regions: this should not be done just for appearances' sake, of course, just to get your acceptance act signed and forget about it. This should be done to improve mobility for as many people as possible, who would otherwise be involuntary hermits.
In recent years, many decisions have been made at the federal level to ensure that people with disabilities can live a normal, fulfilling life. But practice largely depends on what is being done and how it is being done at the local level, how carefully and responsibly the authorities in the regions approach the problem of setting up a barrier-free environment, and how fully they implement the relevant legislative guarantees.
We certainly also have successful experience in some regions and municipalities. So I suggest the specialised working group at the State Council – I know that Mr Andrei Nikitin who heads this group is here today – generalises their experience and ensures its replication.
In any case, we should always start by considering specific needs and be guided by them as we go – the same way that volunteers, public organisations and non-profits do it. Such initiatives are very often proposed, inspired and implemented by people who have some health limitations themselves. These people always share with others their vibrant energy, and become examples of perseverance for many, role models that prove that a passion to help others knows no barriers or restrictions. This rightly deserves our sincerest gratitude, admiration and respect.
And of course, such activities – such necessary and noble undertakings – deserve support, including from the state.
I would like to note that over the past several years, since 2017, the Presidential Grants Foundation has held several competitions, supporting over 4,700 projects aimed at helping people with disabilities, for a total of more than 9 billion rubles. The number of projects related to employment of disabled people, revealing their creative potential and developing inclusive education continues to grow.
I have said many times that one of the crucial tasks that the country and all levels of the government face is the creation of the broadest opportunities for the self-fulfilment of people. It relates to people with disabilities as well, so that they can find themselves in research, work, creativity and, of course, in sports and social work and public work and realise all their talents and interests.
I want to reiterate so that my colleagues in the regions take note: it is not our task, it is our responsibility.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate – and in connection with today’s event too – the winners and participants of the recent Abilympics national championship. This year – we will discuss this later as well – it was held in a special format, mostly remotely, but the level of skill and professional training of our participants has always been the highest.
These skills are always backed up by strong will, perseverance and the will to win. These qualities lead our wonderful Paralympians to victory. We are proud of them, as is the entire country. This is a very important example for everyone (and we have repeatedly said this). One can conquer all summits by never giving up.
I am sure that you have many questions and proposals, so let us get down to our direct discussion.
Let us speak about our projects, ideas that can and should improve people’s lives.