The meeting was held on the eve of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities annually marked on December 3 as declared by the United Nations.
The discussion focused on the following topics: social integration of people with disabilities, inclusive education, rehabilitation, measures of state and non-state support for people with disabilities, including combat veterans, their employment, development of professional skills and entrepreneurial competencies.
The meeting was also attended by Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, Minister of Labour and Social Protection Anton Kotyakov, Presidential Adviser Alexandra Levitskaya, Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights Maria Lvova-Belova, and First Deputy Chair of the State Duma Committee on Science and Higher Education, Vice-President of the Russian Society of the Blind (visually impaired person, group 1 disability) Oleg Smolin.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends, good afternoon.
Our meeting is taking place on the eve of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, as declared by the United Nations. I believe it would be the right thing to do today to look at and analyse the situation with the rights of people with disabilities, to assess how the authorities are addressing the range of issues pertaining to improving the quality of those people’s lives, including equal opportunities for self-realisation, both professional, labour and personal, as well as creative. And we will do this not by reading reports, but by talking in a lively and informal atmosphere.
I have said this more than once and I would like to repeat: the way we treat people with disabilities serves as an indicator of how mature the society is, its human and civic responsibility – this is a globally accepted truth. We do see that in today’s Russia this attitude has been evolving and continues to change for the better. Society as well as the state are no longer silent about the problems encountered by people with disabilities; they are not turning away or averting their eyes, but, on the contrary, they are paying more and more attention to this subject.
Public organisations and associations and charitable foundations are obviously making a big contribution here. This highly significant and valuable activity, which many Russians decide to do at the call of their hearts, deserves the sincerest gratitude. Many such projects also receive grant support, including through the Presidential Grants Foundation.
I would also like to note that the state social welfare system is increasingly cooperating with the related NGOs, and taking into account their opinion and experience – if this is not the case, please tell us about it today. I believe we are trying to include your best practices in our work. That is what we need to do – to combine the efforts of the state and society, working in a constructive partnership.
I want to note that support for people with disabilities needs to be provided with regard to their individual needs. Public associations are an example of such a proper, correct approach. It is necessary to act not in general, based on some averaged indices, but to help, or at least strive to help an individual in a specific personal situation.
I want to emphasise that there can be no such cases where a person is left all alone with their problems, left locked in their flat or house due to their physical restrictions.
And, of course, to help people with disabilities, it is necessary to use the capabilities of the Russian high-tech sectors.
Contemporary solutions and developments might allow us to alleviate or even completely compensate for, or eliminate physical restrictions that a person might face. But it is possible to significantly improve their quality of life. I hope that our scientists, developers, bioengineers and engineering teams – and we have something to be proud of in this area – will make a significant contribution to the cause.
I would also like to mention another important issue. We spoke about it at a meeting with the mothers of military personnel. Today, we, primarily government agencies at all levels, must pay special attention to doing everything we can to support soldiers and officers who were severely wounded during the special military operation. They must receive everything they need for their medical and social rehabilitation, and to be able to recover as quickly as possible and benefit from the best modern services. These people are real men, the defenders of our country, our heroes who performed their military duty with great valour. Our goal now is to fulfil our duty towards them.
I think that most of our citizens will agree with me: it is often people with disabilities who show an inspiring example of moral courage and willpower, resilience and unfailing optimism that helps them make their dreams come true despite the hardships. Today we are talking with such people, and you, which is very important, are set to help other people. Knowing the situation from personal experience, you can put forth your ideas, initiatives and solutions. I am confident that implementing them will eventually benefit all of society.
We discussed these problems at length with Ms Golikova before this meeting. And, of course, we will be happy to hear your opinions, this is why we are here today.
Let us begin.
Vladimir Putin: Friends, we are coming to the end. I would like to address you, all of you who are here virtually today, who have participated in this meeting. All of you are people with an active stance in life, who are achieving notable results, regardless of any difficulties.
But, of course, there are a lot of people who need our and your, our joint support. I have already said – you know this, you have been involved in this work for many years – there are more than 10 million people with disabilities, hundreds of thousands of children.
So, of course, we will have to work together with you to make sure that those who need our support feel that they are not alone, feel the support of the state, the support of people who care, including those who have disabilities. This is very important.
I would like to thank you for what you are doing and to express hope that together we will resolve most, if not all, of the issues that we face in this extremely important area, both for the people and the state as a whole. Thank you and best wishes.