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World Cup 2018

Putin opens World Cup 2018. Jokes around with Saudi Crown Prince after first goal (Video)

Yuri Gazinsky opened the scoring for Russia in the opening match of the World Cup.

Alex Christoforou

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It took 11 minutes for Russia to score the first goal of the 2018 FIFA World Cup to be scored during Thursday’s opening match between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

The host nation got on the scoreboard early with a Yury Gazinsky header, for which the聽Saudi Arabian goalie simply couldn’t get to it despite a good effort.

It was Gazinsky’s first goal of his international career.

The goal is exactly the start that Russia needed to get the crowd into it at Luznhiki Stadium in Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin opened up the match with a welcoming speech expressing Russia’s “love at first sight” relationship with the game of football.

Check out Vladimir Putin, sitting next to FIFA president Gianni Infantino and Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud, with a priceless expression after Russia scored the first goal.

We can only image what Putin is telling MBS after聽Gazinsky’s header.

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columGano1tomIsabella JonesPHILIP LAFRANCE Recent comment authors
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colum
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colum

5 – 0 to Russia

Gano1
Guest
Gano1

Not a bad start………………….. 馃檪

tom
Guest
tom

I only hope the unfortunate Saudi footballers don’t lose their heads over this.

Isabella Jones
Guest
Isabella Jones

Your video has blocked by FIFA on copyright grounds, Duran

PHILIP LAFRANCE
Guest
PHILIP LAFRANCE

I’m an American. I watched the opening ceremony. Classy!
鈿解毥鈿解毥鈿解毥鈿解毥鈿解毥鈿解毥鈿解毥鈿解毥鈿
RUSSIA whips Saudi butt! Hurrah!

AM Hants
Guest
AM Hants

Seriously proud of Robbie Williams. Understand that it should be a Russian act, opening the world cup. However, my Government has been diabolical to the people of Russia, and just glad that there is somebody from the UK, so honoured to be the opening act, and with him he brings the best wishes, respect, pride and love from the non-masses of the Uk. Saying thank you to the people of Russia and their contribution to world peace and the fight they have taken on with the Globalists. So much respect to you all and your Government. Robbie Williams, who released… Read more »

Anthony Papagallo
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Anthony Papagallo

“No more discounts on the S400’s no matter how many goals we score”

Guy
Guest
Guy

I guess MBS is not dead after all .

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Putin’s State of the Nation in review Part I – Military policy

“It seems that our partners fail to聽notice the聽depth and聽pace of聽change around the聽world and聽where it is headed.”

Seraphim Hanisch

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Russian President Vladimir Putin gave his yearly State of the Nation speech on February 20th, 2019. Last year’s speech, given March 1, was a real topic of amazement for both Russia and the West, as the president revealed the new hypersonic weaponry that the Russian Federation has been developing, as well as other extremely sophisticated means of defense for the nation. At first the West mocked these claims, but time proved Mr. Putin correct.

This year’s speech appears to be quite different in its focus, though of course the President had to discuss the matters of the defense of his nation and its response to pressure from the Western powers, most notably the United States and Great Britain. While the main focus of his speech, and indeed, this last presidential term, is on domestic issues within Russia, he had to still discuss military matters, which is what the Western media reacted to. Here is that section of the speech. We have reprinted it in full, but the emphases and comments that break the segment of the speech are ours:

Colleagues, Russia has been and聽always will be a聽sovereign and聽independent state. This is a聽given. It will either be that, or聽will simply cease to聽exist. We must clearly understand this. Without sovereignty, Russia cannot be a聽state. Some countries can do this, but not Russia.

Sound familiar, America?

Building relations with Russia means working together to聽find solutions to聽the聽most complex matters instead of聽trying to聽impose solutions. We make no secret of聽our foreign policy priorities. These include strengthening trust, countering global threats, promoting cooperation in聽the聽economy and聽trade, education, culture, science and聽technology, as聽well as聽facilitating people-to-people contact. These tenets underpin our work within the聽UN, the聽Commonwealth of聽Independent States, as聽well as聽within the聽Group of聽20, BRICS and聽the聽Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

We believe in聽the聽importance of聽promoting closer cooperation within the聽Union State of聽Russia and聽Belarus, including close foreign policy and聽economic coordination. Together with our integration partners within the聽Eurasian Economic Union, we will continue creating common markets and聽outreach efforts. This includes implementing the聽decisions to聽coordinate the聽activities of聽the聽EAEU with China鈥檚 Belt and聽Road initiative on聽the聽way to聽a聽greater Eurasian partnership.

Russia鈥檚 equal and聽mutually beneficial relations with China currently serve as聽an聽important factor of聽stability in聽international affairs and聽in聽terms of聽Eurasian security, offering a聽model of聽productive economic cooperation. Russia attaches importance to聽realising the聽potential of聽the聽special privileged strategic partnership with India. We will continue to聽promote political dialogue and聽economic cooperation with Japan. Russia stands ready to聽work with Japan on聽finding mutually acceptable terms for聽signing a聽peace treaty. We intend to聽promote deeper ties with the聽Association of聽Southeast Asian Nations.

(Russia and Japan never concluded a treaty to end World War II, and negotiations continue to this day, even as commerce has redeveloped between the two countries.)

We also hope that the聽European Union and聽the聽major European countries will finally take actual steps to聽put political and聽economic relations with Russia back on聽track. People in聽these countries are looking forward to聽cooperation with Russia, which includes corporations, as聽well as聽small and聽medium-sized enterprises, and聽European businesses in聽general. It goes without saying that this would serve our common interests.

This is significant and underreported in the United States news media, if not ignored outright. Americans usually get a strange “half” of the news, talking about the US trying to sell LNG to European allies at a high price when Russia, a huge producer of natural gas, is right next door (we will discuss this more in a companion piece).

And now we come to the heart of the matter, at least insofar as this issue makes the news in both countries.

The聽unilateral withdrawal of聽the聽USA from the聽INF Treaty is the聽most urgent and聽most discussed issue in聽Russian-American relations. This is why I聽am compelled to聽talk about it in聽more detail. Indeed, serious changes have taken place in聽the聽world since the聽Treaty was signed in聽1987. Many countries have developed and聽continue to聽develop these weapons, but not Russia or聽the聽USA聽鈥 we have limited ourselves in聽this respect, of聽our own free will. Understandably, this state of聽affairs raises questions. Our American partners should have just said so honestly rather than make far-fetched accusations against Russia to聽justify their unilateral withdrawal from the聽Treaty.

It would have been better if they had done what they did in聽2002 when they walked away from the聽ABM Treaty and聽did so openly and聽honestly. Whether that was good or聽bad is another matter. I聽think it was bad, but they did it and聽that is that. They should have done the聽same thing this time, too. What are they doing in聽reality? First, they violate everything, then they look for聽excuses and聽appoint a聽guilty party. But they are also mobilising their satellites that are cautious but still make noises in聽support of聽the聽USA. At聽first, the聽Americans began developing and聽using medium-range missiles, calling them discretionary 鈥渢arget missiles鈥 for聽missile defence. Then they began deploying Mk-41 universal launch systems that can make offensive combat use of聽Tomahawk medium-range cruise missiles possible.

I聽am talking about this and聽using my聽time and聽yours because we have to聽respond to聽the聽accusations that are leveled at聽us. But having done everything I聽have just described, the聽Americans openly and聽blatantly ignored the聽provisions envisaged by聽articles 4 and聽6 of聽the聽INF Treaty. According to聽Item 1, Article VI (I聽am quoting): 鈥淓ach Party shall eliminate all intermediate-range missiles and聽the聽launchers of聽such missiles鈥 so that鈥 no such missiles, launchers鈥 shall be possessed by聽either party.鈥 Paragraph 1 of聽Article VI provides that (and聽I聽quote) 鈥渦pon entry into force of聽the聽Treaty and聽thereafter, neither Party may produce or聽flight-test any intermediate-range missile, or聽produce any stages or聽launchers of聽such missiles.鈥 End of聽quote.

Using medium-range target missiles and聽deploying launchers in聽Romania and聽Poland that are fit for聽launching Tomahawk cruise missiles, the聽US has openly violated these clauses of聽the聽Treaty. They did this some time ago. These launchers are already stationed in聽Romania and聽nothing happens. It seems that nothing is happening. This is even strange. This is not at聽all strange for聽us, but people should be able to聽see and聽understand it.

And then comes the part that the Western media seized upon in their continuing campaign to malign and demonize both the Russian Federation and its president:

How are we evaluating the聽situation in聽this context? I聽have already said this and聽I聽want to聽repeat: Russia does not intend聽鈥 this is very important, I聽am repeating this on聽purpose聽鈥 Russia does not intend to聽deploy such missiles in聽Europe first. If they really are built and聽delivered to聽the聽European continent, and聽the聽United States has plans for聽this, at聽least we have not heard otherwise, it will dramatically exacerbate the聽international security situation, and聽create a聽serious threat to聽Russia, because some of聽these missiles can reach Moscow in聽just 10鈥12 minutes. This is a聽very serious threat to聽us. In聽this case, we will be forced, I聽would like to聽emphasise this, we will be forced to聽respond with mirror or聽asymmetric actions. What does this mean?

I聽am saying this directly and聽openly now, so that no one can blame us later, so that it will be clear to聽everyone in聽advance what is being said here. Russia will be forced to聽create and聽deploy weapons that can be used not only in聽the聽areas we are directly threatened from, but also in聽areas that contain decision-making centres for聽the聽missile systems threatening us.

What is important in聽this regard? There is some new information. These weapons will fully correspond to聽the聽threats directed against Russia in聽their technical specifications, including flight times to聽these decision-making centres.

This was the source of “media-induced” outrage in the West, which is honestly, likely not that much outrage. However, the addition of context in this speech is invaluable, and while the counter from the Americans may or may not be able to stipulate chapter and verse the violations of the INF treaty from the Russian side (though there appear to be no such violations), the Americans’ actions are clearly set in context, though conveniently ignored by the propagandists of the Western media. President Putin continues, making the most important points of his speech in regard to this topic:

We know how to聽do this and聽will implement these plans immediately, as聽soon as聽the聽threats to聽us become real. I聽do not think we need any further, irresponsible exacerbation of聽the聽current international situation. We do not want this.

What would I聽like to聽add? Our American colleagues have already tried to聽gain absolute military superiority with their global missile defence project. They need to聽stop deluding themselves. Our response will always be efficient and聽effective.

The聽work on聽promising prototypes and聽weapon systems that I聽spoke about in聽my聽Address last year continues as聽scheduled and聽without disruptions. We have launched serial production of聽the聽Avangard system, which I聽have already mentioned today. As聽planned, this year, the聽first regiment of聽the聽Strategic Missile Troops will be equipped with Avangard. The聽Sarmat super-heavy intercontinental missile of聽unprecedented power is undergoing a聽series of聽tests. The聽Peresvet laser weapon and聽the聽aviation systems equipped with Kinzhal hypersonic ballistic missiles proved their unique characteristics during test and聽combat alert missions while the聽personnel learned how to聽operate them. Next December, all the聽Peresvet missiles supplied to聽the聽Armed Forces will be put on聽standby alert. We will continue expanding the聽infrastructure for聽the聽MiG-31 interceptors carrying Kinzhal missiles. The聽Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile of聽unlimited range and聽the聽Poseidon nuclear-powered unmanned underwater vehicle of聽unlimited range are successfully undergoing tests.

In聽this context, I聽would like to聽make an聽important statement. We did not announce it before, but today we can say that as聽soon as聽this spring the聽first nuclear-powered submarine carrying this unmanned vehicle will be launched. The聽work is going as聽planned.

Today I聽also think I聽can officially inform you about another promising innovation. As聽you may remember, last time I聽said we had more to聽show but it was a聽little early for聽that. So I聽will reveal little by聽little what else we have up our sleeves. Another promising innovation, which is successfully being developed according to聽plan, is Tsirkon, a聽hypersonic missile that can reach speeds of聽approximately Mach 9 and聽strike a聽target more than 1,000 km away both under water and聽on聽the聽ground. It can be launched from water, from surface vessels and聽from submarines, including those that were developed and聽built for聽carrying Kalibr high-precision missiles, which means it comes at聽no additional cost for聽us.

On聽a聽related note, I聽want to聽highlight that for聽the聽defence of聽Russia鈥檚 national interests, two or聽three years ahead of聽the聽schedule set by聽the聽state arms programme, the聽Russian Navy will receive seven new multipurpose submarines, and聽construction will begin on聽five surface vessels designed for聽the聽open ocean. Sixteen more vessels of聽this class will enter service in聽the聽Russian Navy by聽2027.

To聽conclude, on聽the聽unilateral withdrawal by聽the聽USA from the聽Treaty on聽the聽Elimination of聽Intermediate-Range and聽Shorter-Range Missiles, here is what I聽would like to聽say. The聽US policy toward Russia in聽recent years can hardly be called friendly. Russia鈥檚 legitimate interests are being ignored, there is constant anti-Russia campaigning, and聽more and聽more sanctions, which are illegal in聽terms of聽international law, are imposed without any reason whatsoever. Let me emphasise that we did nothing to聽provoke these sanctions. The聽international security architecture that took shape over the聽past decades is being completely and聽unilaterally dismantled, all while referring to聽Russia as聽almost the聽main threat to聽the聽USA.

Let me say outright that this is not true. Russia wants to聽have sound, equal and聽friendly relations with the聽USA. Russia is not threatening anyone, and聽all we do in聽terms of聽security is simply a聽response, which means that our actions are defensive. We are not interested in聽confrontation and聽we do not want it, especially with a聽global power like the聽United States of聽America. However, it seems that our partners fail to聽notice the聽depth and聽pace of聽change around the聽world and聽where it is headed. They continue with their destructive and聽clearly misguided policy. This hardly meets the聽interests of聽the聽USA itself. But this is not for聽us to聽decide.

We can see that we are dealing with proactive and聽talented people, but within the聽elite, there are also many people who have excessive faith in聽their exceptionalism and聽supremacy over the聽rest of聽the聽world. Of聽course, it is their right to聽think what they want. But can they count? Probably they can. So let them calculate the聽range and聽speed of聽our future arms systems. This is all we are asking: just do the聽maths first and聽take decisions that create additional serious threats to聽our country afterwards. It goes without saying that these decisions will prompt Russia to聽respond in聽order to聽ensure its security in聽a聽reliable and聽unconditional manner.

I聽have already said this, and聽I聽will repeat that we are ready to聽engage in聽disarmament talks, but we will not knock on聽a聽locked door anymore. We will wait until our partners are ready and聽become aware of聽the聽need for聽dialogue on聽this matter.

This is an appropriate and very honest stance. While it sounds forceful, it is not. It is actually the only thing one really can do. The US hawkish folks have not demonstrated the slightest interest in fixing this problem. In the US, they believe the exacerbation of tensions suits their ends.

This is a potentially tragic example of “my mind is made up; do not confuse me with the facts.” And sadly, the United States of America stands completely in the wrong on this matter.

We continue developing our Armed Forces and聽improving the聽intensity and聽quality of聽combat training, in聽part, using the聽experience we gained in聽the聽anti-terrorist operation in聽Syria. Much experience was gained by聽practically all the聽commanders of聽the聽Ground Forces, by聽covert operations forces and聽military police, warship crews, army, tactical, and聽strategic and聽military transport aviation.

I聽would like to聽emphasise again that we need peace for聽sustainable long-term development. Our efforts to聽enhance our defence capability are for聽only one purpose: to聽ensure the聽security of聽this country and聽our citizens so that nobody would even consider pressuring us, or聽launching an聽aggression against us.

While the rhetoric of “Defense” is always more palatable in our times than militarily offensive strategies, the difference between the defense rhetoric of the US and that of Russia is that the US creates threats out of thin air. Russia and China have the capability of taking over the world, but neither country is actually interested in doing such a thing. As noted by Russia’s own Vladimir Zhirinovsky, to be on top is not the best place, and the second and third great powers have shown unusual wisdom in understanding this.

 

 

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Putin’s speech focuses on domestic issues as media pushes missile warning (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 88.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran鈥檚 Alex Christoforou take a quick look at Vladimir Putin’s聽annual address to聽Russian lawmakers, where the聽Russian President warned聽the United States not to聽deploy medium and short-range nuclear missiles in聽Europe, saying it would “dramatically exacerbate the international security situation” and create serious challenges to聽Russia.

Putin noted that聽“this is a very serious threat to聽us. In this case, we will be forced – I want to聽emphasize this – forced to聽take tit-for-tat steps.”

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You can watch the video in its entirety聽here.聽Full transcript of the speech聽here.

Meduza聽summarizes the 88-minute spectacle below…

Vladimir Putin has delivered yet another annual address to Russia鈥檚 Federal Assembly (a speech similar to the U.S. president鈥檚 State of the Union Address). You can watch a video of the whole thing聽here聽and read a transcript of the speech聽here.聽Meduza聽summarizes the 88-minute spectacle below.

鈥淣ational projects are built around people.鈥澛燗nd you can鈥檛 fool people. People care what is done right now. Russia has colossal resources to grow and develop, and it owes these resources to its industrious citizenry.

鈥淲e have been doing and will continue to do everything possible to strengthen family values.鈥澛燫ussia鈥檚 birth rate is falling, thanks to losses in the Second World War and in the 1990s. The country needs to be growing its population again by 2023. Russia must establish the principle of 鈥渕ore children, lower taxes.鈥 The state knows where to find the money for these goals.

鈥淧overty literally crushes people, depriving them of life prospects.鈥澛燭here used to be 40 million people in Russia living below the poverty line. Today, there are only 19 million. A social contract will help lower this number further, where the state allocates money so people can find work or receive training. Additional payments for pensions and other benefits shouldn鈥檛 depend on the subsistence minimum.

鈥淧eople often have to wait days to see a needed specialist.鈥滲y late 2020, people in any town should have access to medical care, which isn鈥檛 true today. Russians need a new outpatient care standard and they need electronic document management, so people aren鈥檛 required to produce doctor鈥檚 certificates.

鈥淲aste problems have been ignored for a century.鈥澛燭he country has too many over-capacity landfills. And why have officials issued permits for the construction of homes near these dumps? 鈥淪hady businesses are cashing in on this.鈥

鈥淩oughly 200,000 kids are still going to schools where there is no heating, running water, or indoor plumbing.鈥澛燭his problem needs to be solved within two years. Russia needs a school-focused version of 鈥淶emskaya Medicine鈥 (the 19th-century initiative to provide free medical care in rural Russia). The state should pay educators to move to villages and small towns.

鈥淣othing pure remains abroad.鈥澛燭hanks to Russian scientists, the country is completely self-sufficient when it comes to wheat seeds. Russia should create its own national brand of 鈥済reen鈥 products.

鈥淸Investigators] lock up suspects and then go on vacation.鈥漅ussia still hasn鈥檛 found a way to relieve the state pressure exerted on the business community. For every one entrepreneur whose business collapses, 130 employees lose their jobs. Why does Russia treat ordinary corporate work like criminal collusion? Why are arrests prolonged unreasonably? State prosecutors and the Investigative Committee should review businesspeople鈥檚 complaints without delay. By 2021, Russia should eliminate all outdated regulations and guidelines completely and replace them with new ones.

鈥淲e will quietly tell them what we have in store.鈥澛燬oon Russia will complete work on the latest 鈥淶ircon鈥 hypersonic cruise missile, which can reach the speed of Mach 9, and could be deployed on the same ships currently outfitted with 鈥淜alibr鈥 cruise missiles.

鈥淩ussia doesn鈥檛 plan to be the first to deploy such missiles in Europe.鈥澛燭he global situation has changed since the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty was signed in 1987, but now the United States is violating everything itself and then looking for excuses. Moscow will respond in kind and asymmetrically: Russia鈥檚 weapon systems will be capable of striking not only missile launchers, but also at decision-making centers. Russia will either survive as a sovereign state or it won鈥檛 exist at all. 鈥淪ome countries can [exist as vassals], but Russia cannot.鈥

鈥淩ussia isn鈥檛 threatening anyone.鈥澛燫ussia is only responding and defending itself. The Americans are fond of pondering their own exceptionalism. 鈥淟et them count the range and speed of our advanced weapon systems.鈥 In the end, Russians need peace to attain sustainable development.

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Vladimir Putin: 2019 State Of The Union Address To Russia’s Federal Assembly (Full Text)

In 2019 State of the Union Address Russian President Putin outlines massive investment programme to upgrade Russia’s heath and education services and its scientific and communications infrastructure.

The Duran

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This is the official translation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s State of the Union Address to Russia’s Federal Assembly as first published by the Kremlin’s website.

Members of聽the聽Federation Council, State Duma deputies, citizens of聽Russia,

Today鈥檚 Address is primarily devoted to聽matters of聽domestic social and聽economic development. I聽would like to聽focus on聽the聽objectives set forth in聽the聽May 2018 Executive Order and聽detailed in聽the聽national projects. Their content and聽the聽targets they set are a聽reflection of聽the聽demands and聽expectations of聽Russia鈥檚 citizens. People are at聽the聽core of聽the聽national projects, which are designed to聽bring about a聽new quality of聽life for聽all generations. This can only be achieved by聽generating momentum in聽Russia鈥檚 development.

These are long-term objectives that we have set for聽ourselves. However, work to聽achieve these strategic goals has to聽begin today. Time is always in聽short supply, as聽I聽have already said on聽numerous occasions, and聽you all know this all too well. There is simply no time for聽getting up to聽speed or聽making any adjustments. All in聽all, I聽believe that we have already completed the聽stage of聽articulating objectives and聽outlining tools for聽achieving our goals. Departing from the聽targets that were outlined would be unacceptable. It is true that these are challenging objectives. That being said, lowering the聽requirements for聽specific targets or聽watering them down is not an聽option. As聽I聽have already said, these are formidable challenges that require us to聽undertake major efforts. However, they are in聽step with the聽scale and聽pace of聽global change. It is our duty to聽keep pushing ahead and聽gaining momentum.

If someone prefers to聽work in聽the聽business as聽usual mode, without challenges, avoiding initiative or聽responsibility, they had better leave immediately. I聽already hear that some things are 鈥渋mpossible,鈥 鈥渢oo difficult,鈥 鈥渢he聽standards are too high,鈥 and聽鈥渋t will not work.鈥 With such an聽attitude, you had better stay away.

Besides, you cannot fool the聽people. They are acutely aware of聽hypocrisy, lack of聽respect or聽any injustice. They have little interest in聽red tape and聽bureaucratic routine. It is important for聽people to聽see what is really being done and聽the聽impact it has on聽their lives and聽the聽lives of聽their families. And聽not sometime in聽the聽future, but now. We must not repeat the聽mistakes of聽the聽past decades and聽wait for聽communism to聽arrive. We have to聽change the聽situation for聽the聽better now.

Therefore, the聽work of聽the聽executive branch at聽all levels should be coordinated, meaningful and聽energetic. The聽Government of聽Russia must set the聽tone.

At聽the聽same time, I聽would like to聽emphasise and聽repeat: our development projects are not federal and聽even less so agency-based. They are national. Their results must be visible in聽each region of聽the聽Federation, in聽every municipality. It is here, on聽the聽ground, that the聽majority of聽specific tasks is implemented.

Allow me to聽underscore: thanks to聽years of聽common work and聽the聽results achieved, we can now direct and聽concentrate enormous financial resources聽鈥 at聽least enormous for聽our country聽鈥 on聽development goals. These resources have not come as聽a聽rainfall. We have not borrowed them. These funds have been earned by聽millions of聽our citizens聽鈥 by聽the聽entire country. They need to聽be applied to聽increase the聽wealth of聽Russia and聽the聽wellbeing of聽Russian families.

Very soon, this year people should feel real changes for聽the聽better. It is on聽the聽basis of聽their opinion and聽assessments at聽the聽beginning of聽next year that we will evaluate the聽first results of聽our work on聽the聽national projects. And聽we will draw the聽appropriate conclusions about the聽work quality and聽performance at聽all levels of聽executive power.

Colleagues,

Let me now share some specifics on聽our objectives. I聽will begin with the聽key objective of聽preserving our nation, which means providing all-around support to聽families.

Presidential Address to聽the聽Federal Assembly.

Presidential Address to聽the聽Federal Assembly. Photo: TASS

Family, childbirth, procreation and聽respect for聽the聽elderly have always served as聽a聽powerful moral framework for聽Russia and聽its multi-ethnic people. We have been doing everything in聽our power to聽strengthen family values and聽are committed to聽doing so in聽the聽future. In聽fact, our future is at聽stake. This is a聽task shared by聽the聽state, civil society, religious organisations, political parties and聽the聽media.

Russia has entered an聽extremely challenging period in聽terms of聽demographics. As聽you know, the聽birth rate is declining. As聽I聽have already said, this is caused by聽purely objective reasons, which have to聽do with the聽immense human losses and聽birth dearth experienced by聽our country in聽the聽20th聽century, during the聽Great Patriotic War and聽the聽dramatic years following the聽dissolution of聽the聽Soviet Union. This does not mean, however, that we must accept this situation or聽come to聽terms with it. Definitely, not.

We succeeded in聽overcoming the聽negative demographic trends in聽the聽early 2000s, when our country faced extreme challenges. This seemed to聽be an聽impossible challenge at聽the聽time. Nevertheless, we succeeded, and聽I聽strongly believe that we can do it again by聽returning to聽natural population growth by聽late 2023聽鈥 early 2024.

Today, I聽wanted to聽talk about a聽new package of聽measures that has already been prepared to聽support families.

First, it is important that having children and聽bringing them up do not put families at聽the聽risk of聽poverty or聽undermine their wellbeing. As聽you know, we have already provided for聽the聽payment of聽subsidies for聽the聽first two children until they reach 18 months. Benefits for聽the聽first child are paid from the聽federal budget, and聽families can use the聽maternity capital subsidy for聽obtaining benefits for聽their second child. The聽size of聽the聽subsidy depends on聽the聽regional subsistence level for聽a聽child. It may vary from 8,000 rubles in聽Belgorod Region, for聽example, to聽22,000 rubles in聽Chukotka Autonomous Area, with the聽national average of聽over 11,000 rubles a聽month per child. Currently these allocations are reserved to聽families whose income does not exceed the聽subsistence wage multiplied by聽1.5 per person. It is time that we make the聽next step.

Starting January聽1, 2020, I聽propose raising the聽bar to聽two subsistence wages per family member. This is what people have requested and聽these requests come directly into the聽Executive Office. This measure will increase the聽number of聽families entitled to聽additional benefits by聽almost 50 percent. Some 70 percent of聽families with one or聽two children will be able to聽benefit from help from the聽Government.

Second. At聽present, carers looking after children with disabilities and聽people disabled since childhood receive an聽allowance of聽only 5,500 rubles. I聽suggest increasing this to聽10,000 rubles, starting July聽1. Of聽course, I聽understand that it is still a聽small amount. However, it will be an聽additional measure of聽support for聽families with a聽child who needs special care.

Third. The聽income of聽Russian families must, of聽course, increase. This is a聽serious task that requires a聽comprehensive solution. I聽will speak about this in聽greater detail later. But we need direct measures. First of聽all, the聽tax burden on聽families needs to聽be relieved. The聽approach should be very simple: the聽more children there are, the聽lower the聽tax. I聽propose increasing federal tax relief on聽real estate for聽families with many children. I聽also propose lifting taxes on聽5 square metres in聽a聽flat and聽7 square metres in聽a聽house per each child.

What does this mean? If, for聽example, right now, 20 square metres in聽a聽flat are not subject to聽tax, the聽new measure will mean that for聽a聽family with three children, an聽extra 15 square metres will not be subject to聽tax. Regarding plots of聽land that belong to聽families with many children, I聽propose that 600 square metres should be exempt from tax, and聽this means most plots of聽land will be free from taxation. Let me remind you that this benefit is already available to聽pensioners and聽people of聽pre-retirement age. Of聽course, in聽many Russian regions there are local tax benefits on聽land and聽property for聽large families. However, the聽benefit being imposed at聽the聽federal level guarantees that it will be available everywhere in聽the聽country. I聽want to聽ask regional officials to聽propose additional tax measures to聽support families with children.

Fourth, the聽Government and聽the聽Central Bank need to聽consistently maintain the聽policy to聽lower mortgage rates to聽9 percent, and聽then to聽8 percent or聽below, as聽stipulated in聽the聽May 2018 Executive Order. At聽the聽same time, special measures of聽support should be provided for聽families with children, of聽course. As聽a聽reminder, last year, a聽preferential mortgage programme was launched for聽families that have had their second or聽subsequent child. The聽rate for聽them is 6 percent. Anything higher is subsidised by聽the聽state. However, only 4,500 families have used the聽benefit.

The聽question is why. It means that people are somehow dissatisfied with the聽proposed conditions. But it is also clear why. A聽family making a聽decision to聽buy housing certainly makes plans for聽a聽long or聽at聽least medium term, a聽lasting investment. But with this programme, they take out a聽loan, start paying the聽instalments, and聽the聽grace period ends. The聽interest is actually subsidised only for聽the聽first 3 or聽5 years. I聽propose extending the聽benefit for聽the聽entire term of聽the聽mortgage loan.

Yes, of聽course, it will require additional funding, and聽the聽cost will be rather high: 7.6 billion rubles in聽2019, 21.7 billion rubles in聽2020, and聽30.6 billion rubles in聽2021. But the聽programme is estimated to聽reach as聽many as聽600,000 families. We certainly need to聽find the聽money. We know where to聽get it. We have it, and聽we just need to聽use it in聽the聽areas that are of聽major importance to聽us.

And聽one more direct action solution. Considering the聽sustainability and聽stability of聽the聽macroeconomic situation in聽the聽country and聽the聽growth of聽the聽state鈥檚 revenues, I聽consider it possible to聽introduce another measure of聽support for聽families having a聽third and聽subsequent children. I聽suggest paying 450,000 rubles directly from the聽federal budget to聽cover this sum from their mortgage. Importantly, I聽propose backdating this payment starting January聽1, 2019, recalculating it and聽allocating relevant sums in聽this year鈥檚 budget.

Let us see what we have. If we add this sum to聽the聽maternity capital, which can also be used for聽mortgage payments, we will get over 900,000 rubles. In聽many regions, this is a聽substantial part of聽the聽cost of聽a聽flat. I聽would like to聽draw the聽attention of聽the聽Government and聽the聽State Duma to聽this issue. If need be, the聽budget will have to聽be adjusted accordingly. An聽additional 26.2 billion rubles will be required for聽this in聽2019. The聽relevant figures for聽2020 and聽2021 are 28.6 billion rubles and聽30.1 billion rubles, respectively. These are huge funds but they should be allocated and聽used in聽what I聽have already described as聽a聽very important area.

It is necessary to聽give families an聽opportunity not only to聽buy ready-made housing but also to聽build their own housing on聽their land. I聽would like to聽ask the聽Government to聽draft in聽cooperation with the聽Central Bank convenient and, most importantly, affordable financial instruments for聽supporting private housing construction because it is not covered by聽mortgage loans today.

And, last but not least, the聽tax on聽land must be fair. Obviously, the聽cadastral or聽market value of聽a聽land plot can change but tax rates must not go up and聽down unpredictably like roller coaster rides. We have already limited to聽10 percent the聽annual growth of聽the聽tax rates for聽residential property. I聽suggest establishing the聽same limit for聽land plots.

Moving on, today, when construction companies build social facilities and聽transfer them to聽the聽state or聽municipalities, they have to聽pay profit tax and聽VAT. We need to聽relieve construction companies of聽this burden (including our innovations in聽the聽construction sector). This will serve as聽an聽impetus for聽the聽comprehensive development of聽cities and聽townships, ensuring that families have everything they need near their homes: clinics, schools and聽sports facilities. By聽doing this, we will enable parents to聽work, study, live happily and聽enjoy parenthood.

We have come close to聽guaranteeing universal access to聽kindergartens, but by聽the聽end of聽2021, we will have to聽resolve the聽problem with nurseries by聽enabling them to聽accept 270,000 more children, including in聽the聽private sector, with 90,000 places to聽be created as聽early as聽this year. The聽federal and聽regional budgets should allocate 147 billion rubles for聽this purpose, over a聽three-year period. Let me add that enrolling in聽a聽nursery group, kindergarten, getting subsidies, benefits or聽the聽tax deductions that I聽have already mentioned and, I聽hope, that we will come up with, together with you, all this should happen without any additional applications, excessive paperwork or聽having to聽visit various social services. By聽the聽end of聽2020, all the聽key government services must be provided in聽a聽proactive format where a聽person will only need to聽send in聽a聽request for聽a聽service that he or聽she needs, and聽the聽system will take care of聽all the聽rest independently and聽automatically.

I聽would like to聽emphasise that the聽package of聽measures to聽support families proposed today is not an聽exhaustive list of聽initiatives. It sets the聽priorities. Considering the聽challenges posed by聽the聽state of聽Russia鈥檚 demographics, we will continue to聽channel more and聽more resources into this area. I聽ask all of聽you, colleagues, including both the聽Government and聽the聽Federal Assembly, to聽think about it and聽suggest solutions.

Presidential Address to聽the聽Federal Assembly.

Presidential Address to聽the聽Federal Assembly.

Colleagues, solving our demographic problems, increasing life expectancy and聽reducing mortality rates are directly related to聽eradicating poverty. Allow me to聽remind you that in聽2000, there were more than 40 million people living below the聽poverty line. Now there are about 19 million, but this is still too many, too many. However, there was a聽time when their number dropped to聽15 million, and聽now it has grown a聽little again. We must certainly focus our attention on聽this聽鈥 on聽combating poverty.

Furthermore, there are even more people facing serious financial problems than those officially living below the聽poverty line. They are forced to聽cut spending on聽such essentials as聽clothes, medicines and聽even food. Those most often faced with poverty are large or聽single parent families, families with members with disabilities, as聽well as聽single pensioners and聽people who cannot find a聽good job, a聽well-paid job because there are no openings or聽they lack qualifications.

There are many reasons for聽poverty, not only in聽our country, but also in聽the聽world, but it always literally crushes a聽person, dimming their life prospects. The聽state must help people, help them out of聽difficult life situations. The聽experience of聽some of聽our regions shows that it is possible to聽work effectively for聽this. I聽will name these regions: Kaluga, Ulyanovsk, Tomsk, Vologda, and聽Nizhny Novgorod Regions, and聽a聽number of聽other regions of聽Russia. Their experience shows that so-called social contracts can be a聽working mechanism of聽such support.

How does it work and聽what is this all about? The聽state helps people find jobs and聽improve their skills. The聽state provides financial resources to聽families to聽run a聽household farm or聽to聽start a聽small business, and聽by聽the聽way, these are substantial resources of聽tens of聽thousands of聽rubles. Let me emphasise that support programmes will be tailored to聽meet the聽needs of聽every specific applicant. The聽allocation of聽these resources creates some obligations for聽the聽recipients: they have to聽go through training, find a聽job in聽the聽given field and聽provide a聽steady income for聽their family and聽children. Mechanisms of聽this kind are in聽place around the聽world and聽are very effective. Social contracts can change the聽lives of聽those who really want to聽do it.

It is estimated that more than 9 million people will be able to聽benefit from these support measures over a聽five-year period. I聽instruct the聽Government to聽assist the聽regions that are proactive in聽introducing social contracts and聽work with them on聽co-financing mechanisms.

Moving on, there are currently many people and聽families taking out loans for聽various purposes, including consumer loans. Of聽course, borrowers have to聽be aware of聽their obligations and聽refrain from assuming an聽excessive burden. That being said, anything can happen: people can lose their job or聽become ill. In聽this case, the聽last thing is to聽force people into a聽corner, and聽it is also pointless in聽economic terms. Additional legal guarantees are needed to聽protect people. I聽propose introducing mortgage payment holidays, as聽we have recently discussed in聽Kazan, to聽enable people who lose their income to聽suspend mortgage payments. They must get a聽chance to聽keep their home, if it is the聽only property they own, and聽postpone loan payments. This is not an聽easy task, and聽we have to聽understand how this can be done so as聽not to聽harm financial institutions while supporting the聽people. This can be done, however.

I聽also ask the聽Bank of聽Russia and聽law enforcement agencies to聽put things right without delay in聽the聽microlending segment and聽protect people from fraud or聽extortion by聽dishonest lenders.

Let me emphasise that as聽we seek to聽overcome poverty and聽develop the聽social security net, we need to聽reach every family in聽need and聽understand the聽problems it faces. It should not be possible to聽refuse assistance simply because the聽life circumstances a聽person is facing are slightly inconsistent with the聽criteria set by聽a聽programme.

And, of聽course, it is necessary to聽be scrupulous and聽attentive to聽every detail. By聽way of聽example, and聽this is not a聽very good example for聽our work, I聽would like to聽say the聽following: pensions were adjusted for聽inflation under the聽pension reform this year. But if a聽pensioner鈥檚 income exceeded the聽subsistence rate, the聽social payments were no longer made at聽the聽same level. They were either cancelled altogether or聽reduced. As聽a聽result, the聽pensions were not increased at聽all, or聽the聽increases were much less than a聽pensioner expected. So many people feel cheated with good reason. Probably, many people in聽this hall understand what this is all about. We made payments from the聽regional or聽federal budget to聽achieve the聽subsistence level. We made adjustments for聽inflation and聽the聽cost of聽living either matched or聽exceeded it. So these payments were discontinued and聽that was it.

It was necessary to聽take into account all the聽nuances but this was left undone, and聽of聽course, this should not be allowed to聽happen. This injustice, and聽it is certainly an聽injustice, should be sorted immediately. Starting this year, adjustments of聽pensions and聽monthly payments should by聽all means be above the聽subsistence rate of聽pensioners that is established every year. In聽other words, the聽state should first bring pensions to聽the聽subsistence level and聽only after that make adjustments in聽pensions and聽monthly payments. Payments for聽the聽first months of聽this year must be recalculated and聽people should be paid the聽money due to聽them that they have not received.

I聽would like to聽emphasise that all those who work in聽the聽social sphere or聽join the聽government or聽municipal services in聽order to聽help people resolve their urgent problems, must meet the聽highest professional standards. I聽believe by聽and聽large this is the聽case. Of聽course, this is a聽very complicated job. We all understand that working with people every day, from morning until night, is indeed difficult. But if you have this job you should realise that it is no less important to聽understand people, to聽know what they feel, empathise, share their worries and聽concerns and聽never permit yourself arrogant attitudes or聽a聽lack of聽respect for聽people, either in聽word or聽deed. I聽would like you to聽always remember this.

Presidential Address to聽the聽Federal Assembly.

Presidential Address to聽the聽Federal Assembly. Photo: TASS

Colleagues,

The聽next important subject is healthcare. I聽know that, on聽the聽one hand, its current state seems to聽be improving, and聽medical treatment is becoming more accessible. Nevertheless, many people are not satisfied. It is easy to聽understand the聽reasons for聽this. As聽a聽rule, people judge the聽healthcare system by聽its primary component, that is, outpatient clinics and聽paramedic stations. People voice complaints with regard to聽their work. Quite often, they have to聽wait many days to聽see a聽specialist, and聽it is impossible to聽quickly undergo the聽required tests free of聽charge. People in聽remote communities are even having trouble getting appointments with medical personnel. Yes, the聽number of聽paramedic stations and聽mobile medical units continues to聽increase, but people in聽areas where there are no such facilities care nothing about the聽overall statistics.

I聽want to聽emphasise that medical treatment should become accessible for聽everyone by聽the聽end of聽2020 in聽all populated areas across Russia without exception and聽for聽all citizens, regardless of聽their place of聽residence. For聽your information, an聽additional 1,590 outpatient clinics and聽paramedic stations are to聽be built or聽renovated in聽2019鈥2020, and聽I聽hope that this will be accomplished.

Today, a聽number of聽regions are implementing the聽Thrifty Outpatient Clinic project. As聽a聽result, the聽waiting time to聽get an聽appointment and聽see a聽doctor is reduced three or聽four times over, on聽the聽average. I聽have visited such outpatient clinics, and聽they are operating very well. Much better conditions are created for聽people with disabilities and聽for聽parents with children. Unfortunately, there are very few such outpatient clinics so far; they are rather an聽exception than the聽rule all across the聽nation.

Considering the聽best regional practices , and, I聽repeat, there are such practices, I聽hereby instruct the聽Government to聽approve the聽high standards of聽thrifty outpatient clinics by聽the聽end of聽the聽year and聽their certification regulations. Next year, you have to聽team up with the聽regions to聽introduce mechanisms incentivising managers and聽medical personnel to聽improve the聽quality of聽their work. First of聽all, we have to聽completely convert all paediatric outpatient clinics to聽new standards already in聽2021. Please note that the聽sign 鈥淭hrifty Outpatient Clinic鈥 is not what counts. Most importantly, people should at聽long last perceive the聽state鈥檚 respectful and聽truly considerate attitude towards their health.

Improving IT penetration in聽healthcare will make it more accessible. Online links between medical institutions, pharmacies, doctors and聽patients must be streamlined over the聽next three years. Let me add that social security medical assessment boards must be finally included into this digital network in聽order to聽free elderly people, people with disabilities and聽families with children from waiting lists and聽the聽need to聽produce various certificates that are often useless.

Primary care is understaffed. To聽address this matter, comprehensive efforts to聽develop medical education should be accompanied by聽initiatives that produce immediate results. In聽this connection, I聽propose removing age restrictions for聽the聽Country Doctor programme so that professionals over the聽age of聽50 can also receive a聽one-time payment when moving to聽a聽rural area or聽a聽small city: 1,000,000 rubles for聽doctors and聽500,000 rubles for聽paramedics.

The聽most complex surgery is currently performed not only at聽federal, but also at聽regional clinics and聽centres using the聽most advanced equipment. At聽the聽same time, patient recovery is also critical. We have never had a聽system of聽this kind, but we have to聽start with something. A聽lot has to聽be done in聽this area. Let us begin by聽creating at聽least two world-class recovery facilities for聽children, just as聽we did with perinatal centres, and聽proceed from there.

In聽my聽last year鈥檚 Address, I聽proposed a聽programme for聽fighting cancer. At聽least 1 trillion roubles will be allocated to聽this effect over the聽next six years. This is about providing timely, effective and聽accessible treatment, using advanced technologies that are effective in聽most cases and聽enable people to聽overcome this dangerous disease. Today, the聽leukaemia recovery rate for聽children exceeds 80 percent, and聽for聽certain types of聽cancer, more than 90 percent of聽patients recover. Not that long ago, in聽the聽mid-1990s, this disease was almost untreatable and聽only 10鈥20 percent of聽children could be saved. Russia lacked both the聽technology and聽capabilities at聽the聽time. In聽many cases, the聽only option was to聽turn to聽foreign clinics. Those who could afford it did so.

We were aware of聽how tragic this situation was, which prompted us to聽focus on聽improving cancer treatment for聽children, developing oncohaematology, using the聽capabilities offered by聽our research institutions, the聽healthcare system, and聽worked proactively with our foreign partners (some doctors simply moved from Germany to聽Moscow, and聽spent a聽lot of聽time here, and聽probably still do), which yielded results.

We will continue working to聽overhaul the聽system of聽cancer care. Early detection is of聽crucial importance. In聽fact, we have revived the聽system of聽health screening and聽regular medical check-ups. These have to聽include cancer screening. It has to聽be made obligatory. People must have the聽opportunity to聽make appointments remotely, to聽choose a聽suitable time for聽visiting an聽outpatient clinic, including in聽the聽evening or聽at聽the聽weekend, so that the聽check-up can be carried out without any additional formalities.

Next, over the聽next few years we must create a聽number of聽new areas combining healthcare with social services. Thus, we must overhaul the聽system of聽assistance for聽people who need long-term help at聽medical facilities or聽at聽home, adjust this system to聽the聽needs of聽specific families and聽individuals, support people with their everyday needs by聽assigning district nurses or聽carers, or聽training relatives in聽medical or聽other necessary skills. The聽application of聽these recipient-oriented principles of聽assistance began last year in聽Volgograd, Kostroma, Novgorod, Pskov, Ryazan and聽Tula regions. We must introduce them throughout the聽country within a聽timeframe of聽four years.

Palliative care is a聽matter of聽not only medical but also of聽social, public and聽moral concern. According to聽the聽available information, some 800,000 people need this assistance, and聽volunteers have told me that the聽figure is around one million. As聽you know, in聽January I聽visited a聽children鈥檚 hospice in聽St Petersburg, where we discussed this matter. I聽know that yesterday the聽State Duma adopted in聽the聽second reading amendments to聽the聽legislation on聽palliative care. I聽would like work on聽this law to聽be completed as聽soon as聽possible. We will then monitor its application so we can promptly make amendments, taking into account the聽opinions of聽volunteers, whom I聽have mentioned, doctors, carers, members of聽the聽public and聽religious associations and聽benefactors, that is, everyone who have long been providing heartfelt palliative care.

Colleagues, people have increasingly high demands on聽environmental safety issues. Perhaps, the聽most painful topic is municipal waste. If you remember, it came up for聽the聽first time during one of聽my聽Direct Lines. Yes, we have probably neglected the聽waste disposal problems for聽maybe a聽hundred years, which means we have never paid attention to聽them. Many landfills are overfilled because waste has been accumulating there for聽decades. The聽landfills have turned into real mountains of聽garbage near residential areas.

By聽the聽way, I聽am also interested to聽know how you issued permits for聽the聽construction of聽residential neighbourhoods next to聽these dumps and聽landfills. Didn鈥檛 you think of聽that? You should have. I聽urge the聽representatives of聽the聽authorities at聽all levels: pretending that nothing is happening, turning away, brushing aside people鈥檚 needs is absolutely unacceptable. These issues are difficult, of聽course, but difficult issues must also be addressed.

Before the聽Presidential Address to聽the聽Federal Assembly.

Before the聽Presidential Address to聽the聽Federal Assembly.

This year, the聽regions began adopting a聽new system of聽solid municipal waste management. However, if the聽only change is a聽rise in聽rubbish clearance prices聽鈥 well, this is not real work; it is a聽sham. People need to聽see what they are paying for聽and聽what real changes are happening. It is necessary to聽restore order in聽this area, to聽get rid of聽shady businesses that do not bear any responsibility and聽only get super-profits dumping trash at聽random sites.

We need to聽build a聽civilised and聽safe system of聽waste treatment, recycling and聽disposal. Surprisingly, a聽year ago I聽personally had to聽interfere on聽some matters. I聽had to聽talk to聽the聽Interior Ministry and聽the聽Prosecutor鈥檚 Office several times. You know, surprisingly, I聽would like to聽say it again, almost nothing moved forward until I聽gave an聽order to聽station a聽guard there and聽not to聽let anyone in. This is the聽only way it works, because these shady companies, the聽so-called fly-by-nights, they just make quick profits and聽shut down their so-called business.

I聽ask the聽Russian Popular Front to聽ensure effective public control here, including reliance on聽public environmental inspectors. Their signals regarding any violations must be considered by聽the聽authorities, who must adopt specific measures. In聽the聽next two years, 30 large problem landfills within city boundaries must be closed and聽rehabilitated, and聽in聽six years, all the聽rest. At聽the聽same time, it is necessary to聽increase the聽share of聽waste treatment from today’s 8鈥9 percent to聽60, so as聽not to聽accumulate new millions of聽tonnes of聽trash.

It is necessary to聽introduce stricter environmental requirements when it comes to聽utility services and聽energy and聽transport enterprises. In聽part, I聽am urging businesses to聽play a聽more active role in聽natural gas motor fuel projects, and聽invest in聽the聽formation of聽a聽network of聽fuelling stations and聽fuel systems using liquefied natural gas. We have enough of聽it, more than any other country. Indeed, this is a聽complicated and聽costly project but it should be carried out because it will produce results not only for聽businesses but for聽the聽people as聽well.

A聽positive effect from the聽industry鈥檚 transfer to聽the聽best affordable technologies and聽strict environmental standards should be felt by聽residents of聽major industrial centres of聽the聽country, primarily the聽12 cities I聽mentioned in聽the聽2018 Address. These places should be finally removed from the聽zone of聽real environmental disaster. Over a聽period of聽the聽next six years, the聽amount of聽polluting emissions in聽the聽air should be reduced there by聽no less than 20 percent.

To聽prevent anyone from the聽temptation of聽dodging the聽implementation of聽this job, it is necessary to聽strictly monitor industrial and聽other companies responsible for聽this, to聽map out the聽specific steps they should take to聽minimise environmental damage, and聽to聽register all this in聽a聽law on聽emission quotas. I聽know all too well what this is all about. I聽know that fairly influential lobbyists are trying to聽impede this draft law as聽much as聽they can. I聽know their arguments very well too: the聽need to聽preserve jobs and聽a聽complicated economic situation.

But this cannot go on聽endlessly in聽this manner. It must not. Let me recall that in聽making such decisions we should be guided by聽the聽interests of聽the聽people of聽Russia rather than corporate interests or聽interests of聽some individuals. Colleagues, please pass this law during the聽spring session.

Finding solutions for聽environmental problems is the聽job of聽our researchers and聽people in聽industry. Each of聽us is responsible for聽this. I聽am urging young people, among others, to聽take a聽more active part in聽this work. We must hand over to聽the聽future generations an聽environmentally safe country and聽preserve Russia鈥檚 natural potential as聽well as聽its specially protected areas. This year new national parks will open in聽the聽republics of聽Daghestan, Komi and聽Sakha (Yakutia), Altai Territory and聽Chelyabinsk Region. However, I聽would like to聽draw your attention to聽the聽fact that many specially protected areas do not yet have precise borders and聽their regulations are not observed.

I聽have instructed the聽Ministry of聽Natural Resources to聽conduct a聽detailed audit. All sanctuaries must be registered in聽the聽cadastre. It is also necessary to聽adopt a聽law according to聽which only environmental tourism can take place in聽nature reserves, without any withdrawal of聽territories, wood cutting or聽major construction work. Naturally, it is necessary to聽take into account the聽interests of聽the聽locals but these issues should be resolved in聽a聽package.

Colleagues, the聽number of聽students from small towns and聽remote areas studying at聽the聽best Moscow and聽regional universities is increasing. According to聽international assessments, our elementary, middle and聽high school students demonstrate good results in聽the聽humanities and聽hard sciences. We can see it ourselves, based on聽the聽results of聽contests and聽various student competitions. All this is an聽indicator of聽qualitative changes in聽our school education.

However, despite all these achievements, we must not overlook the聽obvious problems in聽this crucial area. The聽share of聽schools with modern study conditions has increased from 12 percent in聽2000 (only 12 percent) to聽85 percent in聽2018. But even today, some 200,000 children still go to聽schools where there is no proper heating, water supply and聽sewage system. Yes, it is less than 1.5 percent of聽all schoolchildren, but when their parents see these conditions, any words about justice and聽equal opportunities only irritate them. I聽want to聽draw the聽attention of聽the聽heads of聽the聽regions where poorly equipped schools still exist. This problem can be completely resolved within two years. We can do it. I聽know that the聽Government is thinking about it and聽making certain decisions. I聽am asking you to聽support the聽regions that lack their own resources.

When in聽2006 we started providing internet connections to聽schools, the聽technology was completely different. You know, it seemed like a聽real breakthrough. And聽it was indeed a聽breakthrough at聽the聽time. Right now, this technology seems ancient, and聽we have new tasks to聽resolve. By聽the聽end of聽2021, all Russian schools must have a聽high-speed internet connection rather than just a聽connection. Let me remind you that in聽2006, when schools were being hooked up to聽the聽internet, the聽recommended speed was 128 kbps. Now we need 50 Mbps or聽100 Mbps, which is at聽least 400 times higher. This will help our kids to聽gain access to聽lessons and聽lectures by聽prominent teachers, to聽contests and聽Olympiads; it will allow them to聽significantly expand their capabilities and聽get involved in聽online projects with their fellow students from other regions and聽countries. The聽content of聽educational programmes must also change. The聽national standards and聽programmes must reflect the聽priorities of聽the聽country鈥檚 science and聽technology development, while the聽federal lists of聽recommended textbooks must include the聽best of聽the聽best books.

Of聽course, human resources are the聽most important issue. I聽have already spoken today about expanding the聽Country Doctor programme. I聽propose starting a聽similar programme for聽education, the聽Country Teacher. Teachers who decide to聽move to聽smaller towns and聽villages will receive a聽one-time payment of聽one million rubles.

We must work consistently to聽strengthen the聽common environment of聽education and聽culture. The聽culture and聽education centres in聽Kaliningrad, Kemerovo, Vladivostok and聽Sevastopol will open no later than in聽2023. Our leading museums and聽theatres will be represented there, and聽branches of聽art schools will start working there already next year. The聽demand for聽a聽rich cultural environment is very high, primarily in聽the聽regions, where a聽great number of聽talented and聽committed people are working.

I聽propose greatly expanding assistance to聽local cultural initiatives, that is, projects dealing with local history, crafts and聽the聽preservation of聽the聽historical heritage of聽our peoples. For聽example, additional allocations can be made towards this from the聽Presidential Grants Fund. In聽addition, we will allocate over 17 billion rubles within the聽Culture national project for聽the聽construction and聽renovation of聽rural culture clubs and聽over 6 billion rubles for聽supporting culture centres in聽Russia鈥檚 small towns.

I聽would like to聽remind you that medical and聽educational institutions are exempt from profit tax, but only until January聽1, 2020. I聽propose making this incentive of聽unlimited duration and聽also extending it to聽the聽regional and聽municipal museums, theatres and聽libraries. By聽the聽way, this will allow them to聽save some 4 billion rubles, which they will invest in聽development or聽will use to聽raise salaries. And聽lastly, this measure will encourage private investment in聽local cultural establishments.

Colleagues, I聽would like the聽heads of聽regions to聽ensure that salaries in聽education, healthcare, culture and聽other public sectors are kept on聽a聽par with the聽average wage in聽the聽given region鈥檚 economy. Colleagues, this is very important. I聽keep talking about this at聽all my聽meetings. We must not lower this standard. At聽the聽same time, the聽average wage in聽the聽economy must grow. Over 40 million people who work in聽the聽public and聽defence sectors and聽are non-working pensioners receive fixed payments. These payments must grow together with the聽inflation at聽the聽least. I聽ask the聽Government to聽take this into account.

More than 70 million people work in聽manufacturing, agriculture or聽the聽services or聽are small business owners. The聽state of聽Russia鈥檚 economy has a聽direct bearing on聽their income, wellbeing and聽confidence in聽the聽future. The聽primary tool for聽achieving steady wage increases is to聽promote quality employment and聽free enterprise, qualified, well-paid jobs in聽all regions, including both traditional and聽new sectors. High economic growth rates are essential. This is the聽only way to聽overcome poverty and聽ensure steady and聽perceptible increases in聽income. This is the聽key to聽success. As聽soon as聽in聽2021, Russia鈥檚 economic growth rate must exceed 3 percent and聽stay above the聽global average afterwards. This objective should not be discarded.

The聽Government and聽the聽Central Bank are once again tasked with complying with the聽target inflation rate. I聽have already said this, and聽we knew that this would happen when we put aside financial resources for聽the聽national projects. This was an聽expected outcome, and聽now we need to聽make sure that the聽situation gets back to聽normal. We can do this. As聽I聽said, the聽Government and聽the聽Central Bank must ensure that the聽inflation targets are met and聽create a聽favourable macroeconomic environment for聽facilitating growth in聽general. We have a聽strong financial safety cushion.

I聽have something positive to聽share with you. For聽the聽first time ever, our reserves fully cover not only the聽sovereign debt, which is quite small, but also private borrowings. These funds are at聽work, and聽investment of聽the聽National Welfare Fund generates budget revenue. Therefore, I聽would like to聽address those of聽our colleagues who constantly criticise the聽Government, its financial and聽economic ministries and聽ask where the聽money went and聽where we invested it. We set a聽target to聽reach a聽certain level, after which we can use these funds, although cautiously so as聽not to聽cause any macroeconomic disturbances. We are about to聽reach this level, and聽are beginning to聽do it. The聽proceeds from these investments go to聽the聽federal budget. In聽2018, proceeds from investing the聽National Welfare Fund in聽the聽amount of聽70.5 billion rubles were added to聽the聽budget.

To聽achieve high growth rates, it is also necessary to聽resolve systemic problems in聽the聽economy. I聽will highlight four priorities here.

Presidential Address to聽the聽Federal Assembly.

Presidential Address to聽the聽Federal Assembly.

The聽first one is faster growth in聽labour productivity, primarily based on聽new technologies and聽digitalisation; the聽development of聽competitive industries and, as聽a聽result, an聽increase in聽non-primary exports by聽more than 50 percent in聽six years.

The聽second one is to聽improve the聽business climate and聽the聽quality of聽national jurisdiction, so that no one moves their operations to聽other jurisdictions, to聽ensure that everything is reliable and聽runs like clockwork. Growth in聽investment should increase by聽6鈥7 percent in聽2020. Achieving this level will be one of聽the聽key criteria for聽evaluating the聽Government鈥檚 work.

The聽third priority is removing infrastructural constraints for聽economic development and聽for聽unlocking the聽potential of聽our regions.

And聽the聽fourth thing is training modern personnel, of聽course, and聽creating powerful scientific and聽technological foundations.

Now I聽would like to聽expand on聽our specific tasks in聽these fields.

A聽colossal guaranteed demand for聽industrial and聽high-tech products is being formed in聽Russia, I聽can say this without any exaggeration. So the聽words I聽would like to聽use聽鈥 we are faced with historical opportunities for聽a聽qualitative growth of聽Russian business, mechanical engineering and聽machine-tool making, microelectronics, IT-industry, and聽other industries. The聽national projects alone include聽鈥 just think of聽it聽鈥 6 trillion rubles worth of聽procurement plans for聽medical and聽construction equipment, instruments, telecommunications systems, and聽systems for聽housing and聽public utilities. And聽these resources should work here in聽Russia.

So I聽am urging the聽Government, the聽regions, the聽representatives of聽state-owned companies I聽see here in聽this room聽鈥 you certainly want to聽buy all the聽most modern equipment and聽as聽inexpensively as聽possible. Naturally, everyone wants to聽be and聽should be competitive, but wherever possible, you need to聽rely on聽our producers, on聽domestic ones. We must find them, and聽even work together with them. Of聽course, there must be a聽competitive environment, but we already have the聽tools to聽support Russian manufacturers. We must not forget about these tools, and聽use them.

I聽would like to聽emphasise that access to聽state contracts must be equal (at聽least for聽our own, for聽national companies), and聽the聽orders should go to聽those who prove their sustainability with hard work and聽results, with willingness to聽change, to聽introduce advanced technology and聽increase labour productivity, and聽offer the聽best competitive products.

As聽concerns the聽defence industry, we must use our current capacities for聽diversification, to聽expand civil production. Colleagues understand what I聽am talking about here. There are certain targets for聽each year. And聽they must be achieved, no matter what.

And聽of聽course, now is the聽time for聽more daring initiatives, for聽creating businesses and聽production companies, for聽promoting new products and聽services. This wave of聽technological development allows companies to聽grow and聽win markets very quickly. There are already examples of聽successful companies, innovative companies. We need many more of聽them, including in聽such fields as聽artificial intelligence, Big Data, the聽Internet of聽Things and聽robotics.

I聽am instructing the聽Government to聽create the聽most comfortable conditions for聽private investment in聽technological startups and聽to聽involve development institutions in聽their support. I聽am asking members of聽parliament to聽promptly pass the聽laws that are most crucial for聽creating the聽legal framework of聽the聽new digital economy, laws that will allow to聽close civil deals and聽raise funds using digital technology, to聽develop e-commerce and聽services. The聽entire Russian legislation must be geared up to聽reflect the聽new technological reality. These laws must not restrict the聽development of聽innovative and聽promising industries but push this development forward.

The聽most crucial indicator of聽a聽business鈥檚 efficiency and聽competitiveness lies in聽expanding export and聽entering external markets. The聽success of聽our agricultural industry is, of聽course, a聽good example of聽such development. Our agricultural export increased by聽19.4 percent in聽2018 reaching $25.8 billion. In聽2024, we must reach $45 billion. Incidentally, we are not only one of聽the聽largest wheat exporters (last year we exported 44 million tonnes). We have at聽least one more significant achievement. Thanks to聽the聽developments of聽Russian researchers we are no longer dependent on聽other countries for聽wheat seeds. Experts will confirm how critically important this is. Russia must have the聽entire range of聽its own advanced agricultural technology, which must be available not only to聽large but also to聽small farms. This is literally a聽matter of聽national security and聽successful competition in聽the聽growing food markets.

Improving the聽quality of聽life for聽those who work in聽rural areas is a聽key long-term factor of聽the聽agricultural industry鈥檚 steady growth. I聽would like to聽point out to聽the聽Government that as聽soon as聽this year, they must approve a聽new development programme for聽rural territories that must be enforced as聽of聽January聽1, 2020.

One more thing. I聽think everybody will agree that our massive natural resources constitute our natural advantage. They need to聽be used for聽increasing the聽production of聽organic produce. I聽am instructing the聽Government to聽create a聽protected brand for聽clean products, a聽brand that will guarantee safety of聽the聽technology used and聽win the聽reputation of聽high quality both on聽the聽domestic and聽foreign markets. Trust me, it will be extremely popular abroad. There is hardly anything clean left there.

Colleagues, to聽achieve the聽ambitious goals facing the聽country, we must rid the聽system of聽everything that restricts freedom of聽enterprise and聽business initiative. Honest businesses should not face the聽risk of聽criminal or聽administrative prosecution. I聽have already noted this matter in聽one of聽my聽Addresses, and聽I聽have cited the聽relevant figures. Unfortunately, the聽situation has not improved much.

Today, almost half of聽all cases (45 percent) opened against entrepreneurs do not get to聽trial. What does this mean? This means that they were opened in聽a聽slipshod manner or聽under some unclear pretext. And聽what does this mean in聽practice? As聽a聽result, 130 jobs are lost on聽average every time a聽business closes down as聽result of聽an聽investigation. Let us think about this figure; this is becoming a聽major economic problem.

The聽business community points to聽a聽number of聽legislative and聽law enforcement problems. I聽agree that we need to聽closely analyse the聽criteria under which all employees of聽a聽company can be considered to聽be part of聽a聽group that is guilty of聽collusion just through the聽fact of聽working for聽that company. To聽be honest, this is complete nonsense, but, unfortunately, it happens time and聽again. And聽this leads to聽a聽stricter detention during the聽investigation and聽a聽more substantial penalty later on. Additionally, we need to聽strictly limit the聽grounds for聽extending the聽term of聽detention during the聽investigation of聽so-called economic criminal cases. Today, this sometimes happens without any grounds, simply because the聽investigators had no time to聽conduct the聽required expert checks or聽as聽a聽result of聽delays in聽the聽investigation.

We have discussed this matter with the聽Prosecutor General and聽the聽President of聽the聽Supreme Court. This is what happens: a聽person is kept behind bars, and聽he has not been summoned for聽questioning for聽several months. The聽prosecutor wants to聽know why he had not been questioned, and聽they tell him that the聽investigator was on聽holiday. Of聽course, investigators, especially those at聽the聽Interior Ministry, handle a聽tidal wave of聽criminal cases, and聽we need to聽do something about that, we need to聽take a聽closer look at聽this matter. Perhaps we should set aside additional resources and聽increase the聽number of聽investigators. Nevertheless, how can this be explained? A聽person is kept behind bars while the聽investigator has left on聽holiday and聽has not questioned him for聽several months. This should not happen, we need to聽sort this out. I聽ask the聽Supreme Court and聽the聽Prosecutor General鈥檚 Office to聽analyse all these problems once again and聽to聽submit their proposals.

I聽suggest that our business associations and聽the聽Agency for聽Strategic Initiatives create a聽special digital platform聽鈥 in聽fact, they themselves have advanced this initiative聽鈥 which entrepreneurs will use to聽make public any instances of聽pressure on聽business and聽to聽demand a聽formal court hearing.

I聽urge the聽heads of聽law enforcement agencies not to聽be wary of聽this. This initiative will serve as聽an聽additional support, so that senior officials at聽these agencies will promptly receive the聽objective information they need to聽make decisions, at聽least at聽the聽departmental level. I聽ask the聽Government and聽the聽business community to聽discuss the聽technological solutions and聽the聽legal framework for聽implementing this initiative, and聽the聽law enforcement agencies聽鈥 the聽Interior Ministry, the聽Federal Security Service, the聽Prosecutor General鈥檚 Office and聽the聽Investigative Committee聽鈥 to聽coordinate regulations for聽working with the聽entrepreneurs鈥 complaints, including deadlines. This platform must start working, at聽least in聽pilot mode, by聽the聽end of聽the聽year.

Next, the聽Government has proposed overhauling the聽regulatory framework. This is good, and聽we must give all-round support to聽this. However, I聽believe that this is not enough. We must take even more radical steps. Indeed, let us draw the聽line and聽suspend all the聽existing regulatory laws and聽departmental regional orders, letters and聽instructions as聽of聽January聽1, 2021. In聽the聽two years until then, we must update the聽regulatory laws together with the聽business community, retaining only those documents that satisfy current requirements and聽shelving the聽rest.

When we discussed this issue, many of聽our colleagues said honestly that they were terrified. Yes, this is scary, but the聽problem does exist. It will not be an聽easy job. The聽files are really thick in聽some areas and聽departments. They have been piling up for聽decades since the聽Soviet era, or聽even 鈥渁s聽far back as聽Ochakov and聽the聽Crimean war.鈥 [The聽quote is from Alexander Griboyedov鈥檚聽Woe from Wit聽written in聽1824.] I聽am not referring to聽the聽year 2014, of聽course.聽(Laughter)聽Some of聽these documents go back to聽the聽time of聽Alexander Griboyedov or聽even before him. So much has been written and聽regulated. But frankly, I聽doubt that even the聽personnel of聽these agencies know everything that is written in聽these documents. Hence, we must complete their analysis within two years. There is nothing to聽fear. We must roll up our sleeves and聽do it, keeping or聽updating only the聽documents we really need to聽properly organise our activities.

Presidential Address to聽the聽Federal Assembly.

Presidential Address to聽the聽Federal Assembly.

Colleagues, infrastructure upgrades need to聽be accelerated using state-of-the-art technology. This is essential for聽enhancing a聽country’s connectivity, and聽especially for聽Russia, the聽world鈥檚 largest country with its vast territory. This is essential for聽strengthening statehood, unleashing the聽country鈥檚 potential and聽driving national economic growth.

This year, the聽railway section of聽the聽Crimean Bridge will be launched, and聽will become a聽powerful impetus. I聽would like to聽take this opportunity to聽thank all the聽construction and聽railway workers. We saw that a聽bypass railway was built near Krasnodar alongside an聽approach railway to聽this junction from the聽Caucasus coast. As聽I聽have said, trains will begin using the聽Crimean Bridge in聽2019, creating a聽powerful development driver for聽Crimea and聽Sevastopol.

In聽addition to聽this, the聽expressway linking Moscow and聽St Petersburg is expected to聽be completed, creating new business opportunities and聽jobs for聽people living in聽Novgorod, Tver, Leningrad and聽Moscow regions.

More than 60 airports will benefit from upgrades over the聽next six years, including international airports in聽Khabarovsk, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and聽Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.

In聽2025, the聽throughput capacity of聽the聽Baikal-Amur Mainline and聽Trans-Siberian Railway will grow 1.5 times, reaching 210 million tonnes, which is very important for聽the聽development of聽Siberia and聽Russia鈥檚 Far East.

Let me reiterate that key indicators related to聽social and聽economic development and聽quality of聽life in聽all Russia鈥檚 Far Eastern regions are expected to聽exceed the聽national average. This is a聽national cause, and聽a聽major priority of聽our efforts to聽promote Eastern Siberia and聽the聽Far East as聽strategic territories. All agencies have to聽constantly keep this in聽mind.

In聽September, we will have a聽meeting in聽Vladivostok to聽discuss what each of聽the聽federal agencies has done and聽intends to聽undertake for聽the聽Far East. All the聽plans for聽building and聽upgrading roads, railways, sea ports, air service and聽communications must prioritise regional development, including promoting these regions as聽travel destinations.

There is enormous interest in聽Russia, our culture, nature and聽historical monuments. Taking into consideration the聽success of聽the聽World Cup, I聽propose making greater use of聽e-visas and聽thinking more broadly about how to聽streamline visa processing for聽tourists coming to聽Russia.

Next. This year we must adopt a聽master plan for聽developing the聽infrastructure of聽a聽digital economy, including telecommunications networks, as聽well as聽data storage and聽processing capacities. Here we need to聽look ahead as聽well. The聽task for聽the聽next few years is to聽provide universal access to聽high-speed internet and聽start using 5G communications networks.

To聽achieve a聽revolution in聽communications, navigation and聽systems for聽remote sensing of聽the聽Earth, we must dramatically increase the聽capabilities of聽our satellite group. Russia has unique technology for聽this, but such tasks require a聽fundamental upgrade of聽the聽entire space industry. I聽am instructing Roscosmos and聽the聽Moscow Government to聽establish a聽National Space Centre. My聽colleagues came to聽me and聽told me about it. This is a聽good project is designed to聽unite relevant organisations, design bureaus and聽prototype production facilities, and聽to聽support scientific research and聽the聽training of聽personnel.

We are seeing that global competition is increasingly shifting to聽science, technology and聽education. Just recently, it seemed inconceivable that Russia could make not just a聽breakthrough but also a聽high-tech breakthrough in聽defence. This was difficult, complex work. Much had to聽be restored or聽started from scratch It was necessary to聽break new ground and聽find bold, unique solutions. Nevertheless, this was done. It was done by聽our engineers, workers and聽scientists, including very young people that grew up with these projects. Let me repeat that I聽know all the聽details of聽this large-scale effort and聽I聽am completely justified in聽saying, for聽instance, that the聽development of聽the聽Avangard strategic hypersonic glide vehicle is tantamount to聽the聽launching of聽the聽world’s first artificial satellite. And聽not just in聽terms of聽enhancing the聽country鈥檚 defence capability and聽security, although this is the聽primary goal, but in聽influencing the聽consolidation of聽our scientific potential and聽the聽development of聽unique technological assets.

At聽one time, the聽nuclear defence project gave the聽country nuclear power. The聽construction of聽a聽missile shield that started with the聽launch of聽the聽world’s first artificial satellite allowed the聽country to聽begin peaceful space exploration. Today, we need to聽use the聽personnel, knowledge, competences and聽materials we have acquired from developing the聽next generation of聽weapons to聽produce the聽same kind of聽results for聽civilian applications.

We have yet to聽implement new ambitious scientific and聽technological programmes. An聽Executive Order on聽genetic research has already been signed, and聽I聽propose launching a聽similar large-scale programme at聽the聽national level on聽artificial intelligence. In聽the聽middle of聽the聽next decade, we should be among the聽leaders in聽these science and聽technology areas, which, of聽course, will determine the聽future of聽the聽world and聽the聽future of聽Russia.

To聽implement such projects, we need to聽accelerate the聽development of聽an聽advanced scientific infrastructure. Incidentally, the聽reactor PIK, a聽mega-science class research unit was recently launched in聽Leningrad Region. Over the聽next 20 years, it will be one of聽the聽world鈥檚 most powerful sources for聽neutron research, enabling scientists to聽conduct unique research in聽physics, biology, and聽chemistry, and聽to聽develop new drugs, diagnostic tools, and聽new materials.

For聽the聽first time in聽decades, Russian shipyards will break ground for聽several modern research vessels capable of聽working in聽all strategic areas, including the聽Arctic seas and聽the聽Antarctic, exploring the聽shelf and聽the聽natural resources of聽the聽World Ocean.

To聽promote powerful technological development, we need to聽build a聽modern research and聽development model. This is why we are setting up research and聽education centres in聽the聽regions that will integrate all levels of聽education with the聽potential of聽research facilities and聽business. Within three years, centres like this should be established in聽15 regions in聽the聽Russian Federation, the聽first five this year. Three of聽them聽鈥 in聽Tyumen and聽Belgorod Regions and聽Perm Territory聽鈥 are close to聽completion and聽are to聽open this year.

We need specialists capable of聽working at聽advanced production facilities, developing and聽applying breakthrough technology solutions. Therefore, we need to聽ensure a聽broad introduction of聽updated curricula at聽all levels of聽professional education, to聽organise personnel training for聽the聽industries that are still being formed.

At聽the聽end of聽August, Russia will host the聽WorldSkills world championships聽鈥 so let us wish our team success. Their success is significant for聽increasing the聽prestige of聽the聽skilled labor occupation. Relying on聽the聽WorldSkills movement experience, we will accelerate the聽modernisation of聽secondary vocational education, which includes installing modern equipment at聽more than 2,000 shops in聽colleges and聽technical schools by聽2022.

Passion for聽a聽future career and聽creativity is formed at聽a聽young age. In聽the聽next three years, thanks to聽the聽development of聽children鈥檚 technology parks, quantoriums and聽education centres for聽computer skills, natural sciences and聽the聽humanities, around one million new spots in聽extracurricular education programmes will be created. All children must have access.

The聽Sirius educational centre in聽Sochi is becoming a聽true constellation. The聽plan was for聽centres supporting gifted children, based on聽its model, to聽open in聽all regions by聽2024. But our colleagues said they can finish this work early, within two years. Such proactive efforts deserve praise.

I聽think every national project has reserves for聽increasing the聽pace. I聽expect that our companies and聽the聽business community will get involved in聽such projects as聽Ticket to聽the聽Future聽that provides school pupils in聽their sixth year and聽above with the聽opportunity to聽discover their career interests and聽intern at聽actual companies, research centres and聽other places.

I聽want to聽speak directly to聽our young people. Your talents, energy and聽creative abilities are among Russia鈥檚 strongest competitive advantages. We understand and聽greatly value this. We have created an聽entire system of聽projects and聽personal growth competitions in聽which every young person, from school to聽university age, can show what they are made of. These include ProeKTOriYA,聽My聽First Business,聽I聽Am A聽Professional,聽Russian Leaders聽and聽many others. I聽want to聽stress that all this is being created for聽young people to聽take advantage of聽these opportunities. I聽urge you to聽take a聽chance and聽use them, be bold, realise your dreams and聽plans, do something of聽value for聽yourself, your family and聽your country.

Presidential Address to聽the聽Federal Assembly.

Presidential Address to聽the聽Federal Assembly.

Colleagues, Russia has been and聽always will be a聽sovereign and聽independent state. This is a聽given. It will either be that, or聽will simply cease to聽exist. We must clearly understand this. Without sovereignty, Russia cannot be a聽state. Some countries can do this, but not Russia.

Building relations with Russia means working together to聽find solutions to聽the聽most complex matters instead of聽trying to聽impose solutions. We make no secret of聽our foreign policy priorities. These include strengthening trust, countering global threats, promoting cooperation in聽the聽economy and聽trade, education, culture, science and聽technology, as聽well as聽facilitating people-to-people contact. These tenets underpin our work within the聽UN, the聽Commonwealth of聽Independent States, as聽well as聽within the聽Group of聽20, BRICS and聽the聽Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

We believe in聽the聽importance of聽promoting closer cooperation within the聽Union State of聽Russia and聽Belarus, including close foreign policy and聽economic coordination. Together with our integration partners within the聽Eurasian Economic Union, we will continue creating common markets and聽outreach efforts. This includes implementing the聽decisions to聽coordinate the聽activities of聽the聽EAEU with China鈥檚 Belt and聽Road initiative on聽the聽way to聽a聽greater Eurasian partnership.

Russia鈥檚 equal and聽mutually beneficial relations with China currently serve as聽an聽important factor of聽stability in聽international affairs and聽in聽terms of聽Eurasian security, offering a聽model of聽productive economic cooperation. Russia attaches importance to聽realising the聽potential of聽the聽special privileged strategic partnership with India. We will continue to聽promote political dialogue and聽economic cooperation with Japan. Russia stands ready to聽work with Japan on聽finding mutually acceptable terms for聽signing a聽peace treaty. We intend to聽promote deeper ties with the聽Association of聽Southeast Asian Nations.

We also hope that the聽European Union and聽the聽major European countries will finally take actual steps to聽put political and聽economic relations with Russia back on聽track. People in聽these countries are looking forward to聽cooperation with Russia, which includes corporations, as聽well as聽small and聽medium-sized enterprises, and聽European businesses in聽general. It goes without saying that this would serve our common interests.

The聽unilateral withdrawal of聽the聽USA from the聽INF Treaty is the聽most urgent and聽most discussed issue in聽Russian-American relations. This is why I聽am compelled to聽talk about it in聽more detail. Indeed, serious changes have taken place in聽the聽world since the聽Treaty was signed in聽1987. Many countries have developed and聽continue to聽develop these weapons, but not Russia or聽the聽USA聽鈥 we have limited ourselves in聽this respect, of聽our own free will. Understandably, this state of聽affairs raises questions. Our American partners should have just said so honestly rather than make far-fetched accusations against Russia to聽justify their unilateral withdrawal from the聽Treaty.

It would have been better if they had done what they did in聽2002 when they walked away from the聽ABM Treaty and聽did so openly and聽honestly. Whether that was good or聽bad is another matter. I聽think it was bad, but they did it and聽that is that. They should have done the聽same thing this time, too. What are they doing in聽reality? First, they violate everything, then they look for聽excuses and聽appoint a聽guilty party. But they are also mobilising their satellites that are cautious but still make noises in聽support of聽the聽USA. At聽first, the聽Americans began developing and聽using medium-range missiles, calling them discretionary 鈥渢arget missiles鈥 for聽missile defence. Then they began deploying Mk-41 universal launch systems that can make offensive combat use of聽Tomahawk medium-range cruise missiles possible.

I聽am talking about this and聽using my聽time and聽yours because we have to聽respond to聽the聽accusations that are leveled at聽us. But having done everything I聽have just described, the聽Americans openly and聽blatantly ignored the聽provisions envisaged by聽articles 4 and聽6 of聽the聽INF Treaty. According to聽Item 1, Article VI (I聽am quoting): 鈥淓ach Party shall eliminate all intermediate-range missiles and聽the聽launchers of聽such missiles鈥 so that鈥 no such missiles, launchers鈥 shall be possessed by聽either party.鈥 Paragraph 1 of聽Article VI provides that (and聽I聽quote) 鈥渦pon entry into force of聽the聽Treaty and聽thereafter, neither Party may produce or聽flight-test any intermediate-range missile, or聽produce any stages or聽launchers of聽such missiles.鈥 End of聽quote.

Using medium-range target missiles and聽deploying launchers in聽Romania and聽Poland that are fit for聽launching Tomahawk cruise missiles, the聽US has openly violated these clauses of聽the聽Treaty. They did this some time ago. These launchers are already stationed in聽Romania and聽nothing happens. It seems that nothing is happening. This is even strange. This is not at聽all strange for聽us, but people should be able to聽see and聽understand it.

How are we evaluating the聽situation in聽this context? I聽have already said this and聽I聽want to聽repeat: Russia does not intend聽鈥 this is very important, I聽am repeating this on聽purpose聽鈥 Russia does not intend to聽deploy such missiles in聽Europe first. If they really are built and聽delivered to聽the聽European continent, and聽the聽United States has plans for聽this, at聽least we have not heard otherwise, it will dramatically exacerbate the聽international security situation, and聽create a聽serious threat to聽Russia, because some of聽these missiles can reach Moscow in聽just 10鈥12 minutes. This is a聽very serious threat to聽us. In聽this case, we will be forced, I聽would like to聽emphasise this, we will be forced to聽respond with mirror or聽asymmetric actions. What does this mean?

I聽am saying this directly and聽openly now, so that no one can blame us later, so that it will be clear to聽everyone in聽advance what is being said here. Russia will be forced to聽create and聽deploy weapons that can be used not only in聽the聽areas we are directly threatened from, but also in聽areas that contain decision-making centres for聽the聽missile systems threatening us.

What is important in聽this regard? There is some new information. These weapons will fully correspond to聽the聽threats directed against Russia in聽their technical specifications, including flight times to聽these decision-making centres.

We know how to聽do this and聽will implement these plans immediately, as聽soon as聽the聽threats to聽us become real. I聽do not think we need any further, irresponsible exacerbation of聽the聽current international situation. We do not want this.

What would I聽like to聽add? Our American colleagues have already tried to聽gain absolute military superiority with their global missile defence project. They need to聽stop deluding themselves. Our response will always be efficient and聽effective.

Presidential Address to聽the聽Federal Assembly.

Presidential Address to聽the聽Federal Assembly.

The聽work on聽promising prototypes and聽weapon systems that I聽spoke about in聽my聽Address last year continues as聽scheduled and聽without disruptions. We have launched serial production of聽the聽Avangard system, which I聽have already mentioned today. As聽planned, this year, the聽first regiment of聽the聽Strategic Missile Troops will be equipped with Avangard. The聽Sarmat super-heavy intercontinental missile of聽unprecedented power is undergoing a聽series of聽tests. The聽Peresvet laser weapon and聽the聽aviation systems equipped with Kinzhal hypersonic ballistic missiles proved their unique characteristics during test and聽combat alert missions while the聽personnel learned how to聽operate them. Next December, all the聽Peresvet missiles supplied to聽the聽Armed Forces will be put on聽standby alert. We will continue expanding the聽infrastructure for聽the聽MiG-31 interceptors carrying Kinzhal missiles. The聽Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile of聽unlimited range and聽the聽Poseidon nuclear-powered unmanned underwater vehicle of聽unlimited range are successfully undergoing tests.

In聽this context, I聽would like to聽make an聽important statement. We did not announce it before, but today we can say that as聽soon as聽this spring the聽first nuclear-powered submarine carrying this unmanned vehicle will be launched. The聽work is going as聽planned.

Today I聽also think I聽can officially inform you about another promising innovation. As聽you may remember, last time I聽said we had more to聽show but it was a聽little early for聽that. So I聽will reveal little by聽little what else we have up our sleeves. Another promising innovation, which is successfully being developed according to聽plan, is Tsirkon, a聽hypersonic missile that can reach speeds of聽approximately Mach 9 and聽strike a聽target more than 1,000 km away both under water and聽on聽the聽ground. It can be launched from water, from surface vessels and聽from submarines, including those that were developed and聽built for聽carrying Kalibr high-precision missiles, which means it comes at聽no additional cost for聽us.

On聽a聽related note, I聽want to聽highlight that for聽the聽defence of聽Russia鈥檚 national interests, two or聽three years ahead of聽the聽schedule set by聽the聽state arms programme, the聽Russian Navy will receive seven new multipurpose submarines, and聽construction will begin on聽five surface vessels designed for聽the聽open ocean. Sixteen more vessels of聽this class will enter service in聽the聽Russian Navy by聽2027.

To聽conclude, on聽the聽unilateral withdrawal by聽the聽USA from the聽Treaty on聽the聽Elimination of聽Intermediate-Range and聽Shorter-Range Missiles, here is what I聽would like to聽say. The聽US policy toward Russia in聽recent years can hardly be called friendly. Russia鈥檚 legitimate interests are being ignored, there is constant anti-Russia campaigning, and聽more and聽more sanctions, which are illegal in聽terms of聽international law, are imposed without any reason whatsoever. Let me emphasise that we did nothing to聽provoke these sanctions. The聽international security architecture that took shape over the聽past decades is being completely and聽unilaterally dismantled, all while referring to聽Russia as聽almost the聽main threat to聽the聽USA.

Let me say outright that this is not true. Russia wants to聽have sound, equal and聽friendly relations with the聽USA. Russia is not threatening anyone, and聽all we do in聽terms of聽security is simply a聽response, which means that our actions are defensive. We are not interested in聽confrontation and聽we do not want it, especially with a聽global power like the聽United States of聽America. However, it seems that our partners fail to聽notice the聽depth and聽pace of聽change around the聽world and聽where it is headed. They continue with their destructive and聽clearly misguided policy. This hardly meets the聽interests of聽the聽USA itself. But this is not for聽us to聽decide.

We can see that we are dealing with proactive and聽talented people, but within the聽elite, there are also many people who have excessive faith in聽their exceptionalism and聽supremacy over the聽rest of聽the聽world. Of聽course, it is their right to聽think what they want. But can they count? Probably they can. So let them calculate the聽range and聽speed of聽our future arms systems. This is all we are asking: just do the聽maths first and聽take decisions that create additional serious threats to聽our country afterwards. It goes without saying that these decisions will prompt Russia to聽respond in聽order to聽ensure its security in聽a聽reliable and聽unconditional manner.

I聽have already said this, and聽I聽will repeat that we are ready to聽engage in聽disarmament talks, but we will not knock on聽a聽locked door anymore. We will wait until our partners are ready and聽become aware of聽the聽need for聽dialogue on聽this matter.

We continue developing our Armed Forces and聽improving the聽intensity and聽quality of聽combat training, in聽part, using the聽experience we gained in聽the聽anti-terrorist operation in聽Syria. Much experience was gained by聽practically all the聽commanders of聽the聽Ground Forces, by聽covert operations forces and聽military police, warship crews, army, tactical, and聽strategic and聽military transport aviation.

I聽would like to聽emphasise again that we need peace for聽sustainable long-term development. Our efforts to聽enhance our defence capability are for聽only one purpose: to聽ensure the聽security of聽this country and聽our citizens so that nobody would even consider pressuring us, or聽launching an聽aggression against us.

Colleagues, we are facing ambitious goals. We are approaching solutions in聽a聽systematic and聽consistent way, building a聽model of聽socio-economic development that will allow us to聽ensure the聽best conditions for聽the聽self-fulfillment of聽our people and, hence, provide befitting answers to聽the聽challenges of聽a聽rapidly changing world, and聽preserve Russia as聽a聽civilisation with its own identity, rooted in聽centuries-long traditions and聽the聽culture of聽our people, our values and聽customs. Naturally, we will only be able to聽achieve our goals by聽pooling our efforts, together in聽a聽united society, if all of聽us, all citizens of聽Russia, are willing to聽succeed in聽specific endeavours.

Such solidarity in聽striving for聽change is always the聽deliberate choice of聽the聽people themselves. They make this choice when they understand that national development depends on聽them, on聽the聽results of聽their labour, when a聽desire to聽be needed and聽useful enjoys support, when everyone finds a聽job by聽vocation one is happy with, and聽most importantly, when there is justice and聽a聽vast space for聽freedom and聽equal opportunity for聽work, study, initiative and聽innovation.

These parameters for聽development breakthroughs cannot be translated into figures or聽indicators, but it is these things聽鈥 a聽unified society, people being involved in聽the聽affairs of聽their country, and聽a聽common confidence in聽our power聽鈥 that play the聽main role in聽reaching success. And聽we will achieve this success by聽any means necessary.

Thank you for聽your attention.

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