President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon, Your Holiness, Esteemed Mufti, Esteemed Rabbi, Esteemed Pandito Khambo-lama, colleagues.
We are here to discuss moral issues in the highest sense of the word, issues that we began a while ago addressing through the best kind of cooperation between the state and its possibilities, our country’s traditional faiths, and our civil society, including the business community. I am referring to the social support for personnel from the Defence Ministry, Interior Ministry and Federal Security Service – support for the officers themselves, and for their families in cases when the officers have given their lives for our country. It was for this purpose that the National Charity Foundation was created.
I will say a few words about the Foundation’s work and our efforts in general to develop this kind of charitable activity. There is no country in the world where the state addresses these kinds of issues alone, and this is not so much out of financial as moral considerations, because this kind of work is always at the meeting point between the state’s attention, the state’s performance of its functions, on the one hand, and what the charity organisations, the business are doing, on the other hand. This is one reason why we have been paying more attention to the regulatory framework for non-profit activities of late. We have established the institution of socially-oriented non-profit organisations. Now, acting on my Address to the Federal Assembly, the State Duma is examining a draft law that will reduce the tax burden for charity purposes. Substantial amounts of budget money are being made available to non-profit organisations in the form of grants. The National Charity Foundation is traditionally one of the organisers of the tenders for distributing this money.
The Foundation has been working for some time now and is active in raising and distributing donations from private individuals and companies. Donations have come from more than 800 organisations and citizens over recent years. I want to say a big thank you to all of them, because this really is an example of true civic spirit.
We want to see the foundation continue this work. We will therefore most likely discuss these issues and talk about how to organise our future work.
The Foundation was established to support servicemen and those with the same status, and their families. Sadly, we lost 235 law enforcement officers in the Caucasus last year alone, and another 686 were wounded. We realise that we are all indebted to these people for their actions, and we pay tribute to their memory, of course, and have a duty to help their families as much as we can. Our common task is to resolve their housing problems. The state authorities are implementing housing programmes for needy groups in the population, of course, for officers and other servicemen, but in some cases we use this universal public-private instrument, and I think this is the right thing to do, the moral thing to do. We will continue this work.
I want to say a special thanks to the heads of our country’s faiths, to all of you here today, and to His Holiness, as the Foundation’s co-chairman, for taking part in the Board of Trustees’ work, and for your support and assistance. I hope that you will continue to participate in this work, because, unfortunately, these kinds of tragic events befall the members of all different faiths. Our country is a country of many faiths, and this alone is good reason for you to keep giving the Foundation’s work your attention.