Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, distinguished colleagues.
This will be a short meeting. I am asking you to continue working calmly and methodically, just as you were doing before.
I would like to emphasise that there will be no changes in Russia’s foreign policy. The principles elaborated by the first president of Russia, the government and the Foreign Ministry will be respected. As before, Russia will try to develop relations with all countries on the basis of equality, mutual understanding, friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation. Russia will work for the development of a multi-polar world.
We will continue developing the Armed Forces and will carry on with military reform, focusing on the improvement of weapons and the structure of the Armed Forces, as well as on social issues. In my opinion, that aspect has been neglected recently. No reform of the Armed Forces is complete if it does not address the social problems of the military.
I want to tell the security-related services and departments that they should continue doing their job and carrying out their responsibility to ensure the operation of the top bodies of state authority and government. They have been doing well so far. Boris Yeltsin, who met with you in the morning, praised your work. I want you to maintain and even accelerate the pace you have gathered in the past few months.
And lastly, this expanded meeting of the Security Council is being attended by the heads of all the main judicial agencies. I would like to welcome them on behalf of the Security Council and the Russian Government, and I hope that we will continue working jointly with the Constitutional Court to strengthen the Russian state, with the Supreme Court to strengthen law and order, and with the Arbitration Court to promote economic discipline.
The acting prosecutor-general is also present here. Unfortunately, the post of prosecutor-general has not yet been filled, but the acting prosecutor-general seems to be doing a good job. Mr [Vladimir] Ustinov, I would like to ask the Prosecutor-General’s Office to strengthen control of all spheres of life in Russia, especially during the election period, so as to prevent problems and ensure that all candidates in the presidential campaign have the same opportunities. We should know – and it would be wrong not to mention this here – that blocs and parties will resume work to attain their political goals with renewed zeal. But these goals must be constitutional, and parties may only act within the framework of Russian legislation and the Constitution. Everything that is stipulated in the law, in the Constitution, must be strictly respected, especially civil and human rights. But we must not overlook the rights of state institutions and society as a whole either.
Gennady Seleznyov [speaker of the Second State Duma] is also attending this meeting. We do not know what lies in store for the top leaders of the Third State Duma. We have said more than once that we have been doing a very good job and working constructively over the past few months. On behalf of all members of the Security Council, I want to express the hope that we will promote a constructive approach in our joint lawmaking efforts. We have quite a few problems and issues in that area. President Yeltsin has been working very hard in the past few days, and most of the documents that we spoke about have been signed. They will be made public today. The remaining documents will be finalised soon.
I hope that you, Mr Seleznyov, will use your experience and standing to ensure that our relations with the new members of parliament are as good as the ones we had with the previous State Duma.
That’s about all I wanted to discuss, aside from the Year 2000 computer problem (also known as the Y2K problem) and elections. All of you should continue working. I am not going to repeat this, or list everyone’s responsibilities, since we have discussed this before. Everyone in charge of the day-to-day work of the basic government systems – in the defence sector, power generation, information systems, transport (primarily aircraft), and space exploration must continue doing their jobs. All of you know your responsibilities and I ask you to remain vigilant, despite the festive mood. A lot might depend on how well you do your job over these next few days.