Meeting with Civic Chamber members 2020-06-25 15:30:00 Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region Vladimir Putin met with members of the new, seventh Civic Chamber via videoconference. The meeting was attended by members of the Civic Chamber and First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Kiriyenko. The Civic Chamber is formed of members approved by a Presidential Executive Order, nominees from regional civic chambers and representatives of public organisations and NGOs selected in a competition. The new members of the Civic Chamber will serve until 2023. At a plenary meeting on June 19, Lidia Mikheyeva was elected Secretary. * * * President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, good afternoon. First of all, I want to congratulate you on starting your work at the seventh Civic Chamber of Russia. We have such meetings regularly, but today, for obvious reasons, we will talk via videoconference. By the way, it is quite convenient for discussing various topics with people located in different places; it saves a lot of time, and as I said, this format can well be used in the future more often. But of course, when large offline meetings are safe, we will certainly find an opportunity for direct personal communication. I would like to note that Civic Chamber membership has significantly changed, with more than half of the members replaced. In particular, socially oriented NGOs and volunteer organisations are even more widely and vividly represented now. And this, in particular, is a reflection of the role that volunteer associations have played in the recent difficult months. The necessary continuity is also ensured, so we can begin working in all the key areas of the Civic Chamber's activity promptly and without delay. In just a few days, on July 1, you all know this well, Russia will vote on amending the country’s fundamental law, its Constitution. In this regard, first of all, I would like to thank you and your colleagues from the previous composition of the Chamber for your active participation in the substantive discussion, a detailed study of the text of the amendments, and for explaining the idea of these amendments, their meaning in a dialogue with the public. I want to commend the significant efforts by the federal Civic Chamber and its regional branches to build a corps of independent observers. This work was organised not only quickly but also thoroughly, in compliance with all the requirements and restrictions imposed by the coronavirus epidemic. Our primary task is to make sure that the results of the national vote are absolutely reliable and legitimate. We must prevent any attempts to force people to vote against their will or to inflate the voter turnout, not to mention any errors in recording votes – so that subsequently, nobody could ever cast doubt on the views expressed by Russian citizens. As you know, I have repeatedly said that in general, the changes proposed for the Constitution, our fundamental law, were not subject to a mandatory national vote according to statutory requirements. However, I decided that it is extremely important that people express their own opinion of the proposed amendments. Our citizens are the only people who have the right to decide what our fundamental law will be. Therefore, in cooperation with election commissions and your colleagues from the regions, it is necessary to conduct an extensive and thorough monitoring of the voting process to ensure accurate and strict compliance with all regulations and procedures, including sanitary safety at polling stations. And, of course, the most important task is to guarantee a free expression of people’s will on the most essential and principled issue for the present and future of our country and each of our citizens. Friends, The Civic Chamber is responsible for consolidating our society and promoting our common interests. It is supposed to be an active, dynamic and open platform for coordinating views, developing and proposing a constructive national agenda. These are the tasks that were originally assigned to this important and, as time has shown, much-needed institution when it was established 15 years ago. I would like you to particularly focus on the following issues. First, I consider it important to toughen public control over the implementation of the decisions made as part of the coronavirus response. These are issues of social support for people, families with children, small- and medium-sized business and the NGOs. The Chamber made its own, major contribution to their elaboration. Its members and your colleagues from the regions joined centres on countering the coronavirus and the large-scale public movement We Are Together. This is a very good undertaking. It proved to be useful. Second, I hope you noticed that when addressing the citizens of Russia on June 23, I suggested increasing the tax rate on the incomes of individuals to 15 percent on salaries exceeding 5 million rubles a year and channelling these additional resources into the treatment of children suffering from rare, serious diseases. Let me repeat that it will be necessary to create an absolutely transparent, understandable mechanism for distributing these funds with the participation of people who have an impeccable reputation in society. I suggest the Civic Chamber make its own proposals in this regard. It is necessary to form a mechanism for distributing these funds. Third, the forthcoming implementation of the long-term plan for restoring the economy, business life and employment will also require control on your behalf. I will add that the Civic Chamber’s proposals have been taken into account in drafting the plan. I would like to ask you to join the current adjustment and monitoring of national projects. I have said more than once that national projects must be well understood by the public. They must bring tangible benefits and change people’s lives for the better. This is the ultimate goal of these projects, so their results must be assessed based on the opinion of the people rather than officials’ impersonal reports. The Chamber’s task is to sum up and concentrate this and to meticulously raise problematic issues before government bodies at all levels. Fourth, I believe the Chamber can play a major role in more actively promoting projects and initiatives that attract broad public interest and are important for national development and people’s self-realisation. What are these issues? These are nation conservation, support for education, healthcare and business, projects on the development of the public infrastructure aimed at improving the quality of life all over the country – from the Far East to Kaliningrad. The Civic Chamber should also promote the best practices of attracting investment, improving the business environment and using the capabilities of regional civic chambers to monitor and assess the quality of investment projects. It should prepare proposals on increasing investment in the Russian economy and supporting enterprise, including in high-tech spheres and, probably, primarily in high-tech areas. Fifth, the Chamber should continue to develop as a centre of independent professional assessment, including the analysis of legislative initiatives, as well as an effective feedback channel and a platform for active communication between society and the authorities. I would like to say in this context that the Civic Chamber should quickly respond to current problems and public requests, as well as help prevent and settle conflict situations between the authorities and the people, between companies, and between people in the broad sense of the word. I am pinning my hopes on you in this regard, because you are working with people. In conclusion, I would like to point out that the seventh Civic Chamber has everything it needs for fruitful work, because it comprises the best experts and very talented people from all walks of life, including medicine, ecology, human rights, science, culture, the economy and innovative business. I am confident that you are aware of the high status membership in the Civic Chamber carries, but you should also know that you will have to uphold it all the time through your efforts. You must keep working to win and justify the confidence bestowed upon you, which is the foundation of authority, including that of the Civic Chamber, and its role in the country. The main thing is that the Chamber’s agenda is based on life, and people’s needs, and that it proceeds from the problems that people encounter every day. Today it is the rapid recovery of the labour market and the development of healthcare and education. You also know how attractive the programme of mortgage loans issued under a reduced 6.5 percent interest rate has turned out to be. We have decided to expand it, but this is not enough. We must also move forward in other spheres, including the introduction of support mechanisms for private housing projects. I would like to ask you to address these issues in detail, working on all aspects of solutions together with the Government, Parliament, businesses and regional authorities. Let us now discuss all the issues I have mentioned, those you consider most important. Please tell me about your priorities and objectives for the next three years. <…> Vladimir Putin: I would like to say just a couple of words as we are rounding up. I have just listened to our colleagues from the Civic Chamber – everyone is definitely engaged in a very interesting and extremely important business. Each of you is a specialist of a high level and class, and of course, if you put your skills, your expertise, your talent, and your experience into addressing the nation’s problems at the Civic Chamber platform, then without a doubt, the Chamber will certainly fulfil the role it was created for and will achieve good, visible results, will fulfil its tasks. I wish you success. Thank you.