Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
I would like to heartily congratulate you on your decision to create a single party.
Although some people in this room abstained and there are those who opposed this fundamental decision, nevertheless you have proved that influential political forces in the country are supporting with their actions the unification processes that are already taking place in Russian society. In that sense your consolidation is absolutely logical. The period of political radicalism is receding into the past. The forces that are winning today are those that feel the pulse of the times and the sentiments in society. The future belongs to those who can rein in their own ambitions and renounce narrow corporate interests. We see that the party’s Supreme Council has many prominent individuals who have gained authority in society and enjoy respect and occupy high positions in the government and social hierarchy.
However, I would like to stress the following: I think it would be rash to declare oneselves to be the ruling party in this connection, and let us be honest and say that it doesn’t take an awful lot of brains to do so. It only makes sense if the government itself does not make a lot of mistakes and therefore enjoys the support of the people and reflects their interests. It has to be said that the authorities won’t last long in their present shape unless they rely on civil movements which reflect the interests of the majority of the country’s population.
Today Russia needs parties that are really capable of earning the respect and support of the nation. Society has already presented a demand for parties that consistently uphold the rights and interests of its members. Only then will you become a true party of the majority. That is not easy, but I hope that it is not too high a bar for your party. I hope that your main political goal will be to bring about a real improvement in the life of our citizens. I hope that you will serve the people by your deeds and not your words; that you will set concrete social and economic tasks and will be able to explain to the people in a coherent and talented way that the achievement of these goals will deliver prosperity to Russia and its citizens.
Society and government are interested in having healthy political competition in the country. I very much hope that there will be just such competition within the party – normal and healthy. I hope that there will be competition on the political scene in the country and that you will be able to display your best qualities. But it must be truly healthy competition and not a fruitless struggle that weakens the state system and undermines the authority of the state and the very essence of democracy. Russian citizens rightly believe that political confrontation is far removed from their interests. It is not by chance that in many regions a large part of the constituencies, as we know very well, simply don’t go to the polls or vote against all candidates. It should give us food for thought.