Translator’s Note: I wanted the toiling masses to read for themselves what President Putin had to say – and so I have translated his recent speech – ‘word for word’ – from the original Russian language and into contemporary British English. Vladimir Putin was an Officer in the Soviet NKVD (KGB) – or ‘Revolutionary Police’. His function was to study Marxist-Leninist ideology and to protect the 1917 Socialist Revolution and the Soviet State! The Soviet State was ‘atheist’ and directed the development of society not through the superstition of religion (although freedom of religion was guaranteed as a ‘private’ matter to every Soviet citizen) – but rather through the correct application of material (dialectical) science. Incidentally, the USSR shared exactly the same separation of Church and State that defined the (Bourgeois) English Revolution, the American Revolution and the French Revolution! Why President Putin feels the need to parrot the homophobia implicit in the Russian Orthodox Church is beyond me! Religion is the problem and never the solution. However, this speech seems distinctly ‘Soviet’ in essence, albeit carefully camouflaged with the language of contemporary Bourgeois society! Whatever the case, think for yourselves and make up your own minds! ACW (23.2.2023)
Dear Deputies of the Federal Assembly – Senators, Deputies of the State Duma!
Dear Citizens of Russia!
With today’s Address, I am speaking at a difficult time – we all know this very well – a milestone time for our country, at a time of cardinal, irreversible changes throughout the world, the most important historical events that determine the future of our country and our people, when each of we have a huge responsibility.
A year ago, in order to protect people on our historical lands, to ensure the security of our country, to eliminate the threat posed by the Neo-Nazi regime that emerged in Ukraine after the 2014 coup, a decision was made to conduct a special military operation. And we will step by step, carefully and consistently solve the tasks before us.
Starting from 2014, Donbass fought, defended the right to live on its own land, speak its native language, fought and did not give up under the blockade and constant shelling, undisguised hatred from the Kiev regime, believed and waited for Russia to come to the rescue.
Meanwhile – and you know this well – we did everything possible, really everything possible to solve this problem by peaceful means, patiently negotiated a peaceful way out of this most difficult conflict.
But a completely different scenario was being prepared behind our backs. The promises of the Western rulers, their assurances about the desire for peace in the Donbass, as we now see, turned into a forgery, a cruel lie. They simply played for time, engaged in chicanery, turned a blind eye to political assassinations, to the repressions of the Kyiv regime against objectionable people, to mockery of believers, and more and more encouraged Ukrainian Neo-Nazis to carry out terrorist actions in the Donbass. In Western academies and schools, officers of nationalist battalions were trained, and weapons were supplied.
And I want to emphasize that even before the start of the Special Military Operation, Kyiv was negotiating with the West on the supply of Air Defence Systems, Combat Aircraft, and other heavy equipment to Ukraine. We also remember the attempts of the Kyiv regime to acquire nuclear weapons, because we talked about it publicly.
The United States and NATO rapidly deployed their Military Bases and secret biological laboratories near the borders of our country, mastered the theatre of future military operations in the course of manoeuvres, prepared the Kyiv regime subject to their orders, the Ukraine they had enslaved, and prepared for a significant war.
And today they admit it – they admit it publicly, openly, without hesitation. They seem to be proud, revelling in their treachery, calling both the Minsk Agreements and the Normandy Format a diplomatic performance, a bluff. It turns out that all the time when the Donbass was on fire, when blood was shed, when Russia was sincere – I want to emphasize this – when Russia was sincerely striving for a peaceful solution, they were playing with people’s lives, they were playing – in fact, as they say in well-known circles – with ‘marked cards’.
This disgusting method of deception has been tried many times before. They behaved just as shamelessly and duplicitously when they destroyed Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya and Syria! From this shame they will never recover! This stain of shame will never be washed away! The concepts of honour, trust and decency are not with them.
Over the long centuries of colonialism, dictatorship and hegemony, they got used to being allowed to do everything – they got used to spitting on the whole world. It turned out that they treat the peoples of their own countries just as disdainfully – as if they are our Master – after all, they cynically attempted to deceive us too with their fables about the search for peace, about adherence to the UN Security Council Resolutions on Donbass. Indeed, the Western elites have become a symbol of total unprincipled lies.
We firmly defend not only our interests, but also our position that in the modern world there should be no division into the so-called civilized countries against all the rest – that an honest partnership is needed – in principle denying any exclusivity, especially a division backed-up by aggressive behaviour.
We were open and sincerely ready for a constructive dialogue with the West, we said and insisted that both Europe and the whole world needed an indivisible security system equal for all States, and for many years we suggested that our partners discuss this idea together and work on its implementation. But in response, they received an indistinct or hypocritical reaction. This is about words. But there were also specific actions: the expansion of NATO to our borders, the creation of new positional areas for missile defence in Europe and Asia – they decided to hide this from us with an “umbrella” – this is the deployment of their military contingents in countries around us, and not only near the borders of Russia.
I want to emphasize, yes, in fact, it is well known to everyone: no other country in the world has such a number of military bases abroad as the United States of America. There are hundreds of them, I want to emphasize this, hundreds of bases around the world, the whole planet is littered, you just need to look at the map.
The whole world has seen how they withdraw from fundamental agreements in the field of weapons, including the treaty on intermediate and shorter-range missiles, unilaterally tearing up the fundamental agreements that maintain world peace. For some reason, they did it – but their own propaganda is that they don’t do anything just like that, as you know. Every other country is the threat – but never the US!
Finally, in December 2021, we officially submitted draft Security Assurance Agreements to the US and NATO. But on all key fundamental positions for us – they received – in fact, a direct refusal. Then it finally became clear that the go-ahead for the implementation of aggressive plans was given by the US and they are not going to stop!
The threat was growing every day from the US and their allies. The incoming information left no doubt about this situation. By February 2022 everything was ready for another bloody punitive action by the US in the Donbass, against which – let me remind you – the Kyiv Neo-Nazi regime had already thrown artillery, tanks and aeroplanes back in 2014!
We all remember well the footage showing the air strikes carried out against Donetsk, air strikes were carried out not only on Donetsk, but also on other cities. In 2015, they again attempted a direct attack on the Donbass, while continuing the blockade, using shelling and terror against civilians. All this, let me remind you, completely contradicted the relevant documents and resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council, completely – all the UN members ‘pretended’ that nothing was happening!
I want to repeat this: it was they who unleashed the war, and we have been made to use force to stop it.
Those who planned a new attack on Donetsk, Donbass, and Lugansk clearly understood that the next target was a strike on Crimea and Sevastopol, and we knew and understood this. And now such far-reaching plans in Kyiv are also openly spoken about – they have revealed what we already knew so well.
We protect people’s lives, our own home. And the goal of the West is unlimited power. The US has already spent more than $150 billion on aiding and arming the Neo-Nazi Kyiv regime. For comparison: according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the G7 countries have allocated about $60 billion in 2020-2021 to help the world’s poorest States. Understandable, right? For the war – 150 billion, and for the poorest countries, which are allegedly constantly taken care of – 60 billion, even under the well-known demands of obedience from the poor countries who receive this money. And where is all the talk about the fight against poverty, about sustainable development, about the environment? Where does it all go? Where did it all go? At the same time, the flow of money for the war does not decrease. Also, they spare no expense to encourage unrest and upheavals in other countries all over the world!
At a recent conference in Munich, there were endless accusations against Russia. One gets the impression that this was done only so that everyone would forget what the so-called West has done in recent decades. And it was they who let the genie out of the bottle and plunged entire regions into chaos.
According to American experts themselves, as a result of wars – I want to draw attention to this: we did not come up with these figures, the Americans themselves give them – as a result of the wars that the United States unleashed after 2001, almost 900,000 people died – whilst more than 38 million became refugees. Now they just want to erase all this from the memory of mankind, they pretend that nothing happened. But no one in the world has forgotten and no one will not forget this.
None of them consider human casualties and tragedies, because, of course, trillions and trillions of dollars are at stake; the ability to continue to rob everyone; under the guise of words about democracy and freedom, to spread neo-liberal and inherently totalitarian values; hang labels on entire countries and peoples, publicly insult their leaders; suppress dissent in their own countries; creating the image of an enemy, diverting people’s attention from home-grown corruption scandals – after all – all these screens are transparent and in reality we see it all – from the growing internal economic, social, inter-ethnic problems and contradictions.
Let me remind you that in the 1930s of the last century – the West actually opened the way for the Nazis to come to power in Germany. And in our time, they invented and propagated “anti-Russia” feeling in the Ukraine. The project is not really new. People who are at least a little immersed in history know perfectly well: this project goes back to the 19th century, it was cultivated in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and in Poland, and other countries and possesses only one goal – to tear off our historical territories, which today involves Ukraine – tear it off from our country. That’s what this goal is. There is nothing new, no novelty, everything is repeated.
The West accelerated the implementation of this project today by supporting the 2014 Neo-Nazi coup. After all, this Hitlerite coup is bloody, anti-State, anti-Constitution – as if nothing had happened, as if it was necessary, they even reported how much money was spent on it. Russophobia, extremely aggressive ultra-nationalism was laid as the ideological basis.
Recently, one of the Brigades of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, we are ashamed to say – they are not – was given the name of “Edelweiss” – after the infamous Nazi Division! This Hitlerite ‘SS’ Division committed War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity which included the deportation of Jews, the execution of Soviet POWs as well as punitive operations against the Partisans of Yugoslavia, Italy, Czechoslovakia and Greece. The Armed Forces of Ukraine and the National Guard of Ukraine like to refer to themselves by the other Hitlerite designations of Das Reich, “Death’s Head”, SS “Galicia”, and other Hitlerite extermination units – all of which have blood on their hands up to the elbows! Furthermore, the well-known identification marks of the Nazi German Wehrmacht are applied to Ukrainian armoured vehicles.
Neo-Nazis do not hide whose heirs they consider themselves to be – indeed, the Ukrainians and the Western (White Supremacist ‘Volunteers’ – are proud to be followers of Adolf Hitler! It is surprising that in the West none of the mainstream media reports this or no politician complains! Why? Because these allies of US, careful not to display and bad manners, do not want to offend their American paymasters. The US, UK and EU Establishments do not give a damn who they are sending to fight against Russia. The main thing is that they fight against us, against our country, which means that everyone (and any ideology) can be used. And we saw it, and it has happened: both terrorists and Neo-Nazis – even if the devil if he shaved his head and put on a helet (God forgive me) – can be used as a weapon against Russia!
The “anti-Russia” project is, in fact, part of a revanchist policy towards our country, to create hotbeds of instability and conflicts right on our borders. Just as in the 1930s of the last century, and now the plan is the same – to direct aggression toward the east, to kindle a war in Europe, to eliminate competitors by proxy.
We are not at war with the people of Ukraine, I have already spoken about this many times. The people of Ukraine themselves became a hostage of the Neo-Nazi Kyiv regime and its Western Masters, who actually occupied this country in the political, military and economic sense – whilst destroying Ukrainian industry for decades and plundering natural resources. The natural result was social degradation, a colossal increase in poverty and inequality. And in such conditions, of course, it is easy to scoop up material for military operations. Nobody thought about people, they were prepared for slaughter and eventually turned into consumables. It’s sad, it’s just scary to talk about it, but it’s a fact.
The responsibility for inciting the Ukrainian conflict, for the escalation, for the increase in the number of its victims lies entirely with the Western elites and, of course, with the current Neo-Nazi Kyiv regime, for which the genuine Ukrainian people are, in fact, in opposition to. The current Ukrainian regime serves not the national interest – but the interests of other countries.
The West is using Ukraine both as a battering ram against Russia and as a training ground. I will not now dwell on the West’s attempts to turn the tide of hostilities, on their plans to increase military supplies – everyone is already well aware of this. But one circumstance should be clear to everyone: the more long-range Western systems will come to Neo-Nazi Ukraine – the further we will be forced to move the threat further away from our borders. This will be a natural consequence of increased Western aggression – and we will destroy more of the Kyiv Neo-Nazi regime.
The elites of the West make no secret of their goal: to inflict – as they say, this is direct speech – “the strategic defeat of Russia.” What does it mean? For us, what is it? This means finishing with us once and for all, that is, they intend to transfer a local conflict into a phase of global confrontation. This is how we understand all this, and we will react accordingly, because in this case we are talking about the existence of our country.
But they also cannot but be aware that it is impossible to defeat Russia on the battlefield, therefore they are conducting more and more aggressive information attacks against us. First of all, of course, young people, young generations are chosen as the target. And here again they constantly lie, distort historical facts, do not stop attacks on our culture, on the Russian Orthodox Church, and other traditional religious organizations of our country.
Look at what they are doing with their own peoples: the destruction of the family, cultural and national identity, perversion, abuse of children, paedophilia – all are declared the norm, the norm of their life! This includes Priests being forced to bless same-sex marriages! God bless them, let them do what they want. What do you want to say here? Adults have the right to live as they want according to the law, we treat it this way in Russia: no one intrudes into private life, and we are not going to do it.
But I want to tell them: but look, excuse me, the sacred scriptures, the main books of all other world religions. Everything is said there, including that the family is the union of a man and a woman, but these sacred texts are now being questioned. The Anglican Church, for example, has been reported to be planning—planning, though only just yet—to explore the idea of a gender-neutral god. What can you say? God forgive me, they don’t know what they’re doing.
Millions of people in the West understand that they are being led to a real spiritual catastrophe. The elites, frankly, are just going crazy, and it seems that there is no cure. But these are their problems, as I said, and we are obliged to protect our children, and we will do it: we will protect our children from degradation and degeneration.
It is obvious that the West will try to undermine and split our society, rely on national traitors who at all times – I want to emphasize this – have the same poison of contempt for their own Fatherland and the desire to make money by selling this poison to those who are ready to pay for it. It’s always been that way.
Whoever embarked on the path of direct betrayal, committing terrorist and other crimes against the security of our society, the territorial integrity of the country, will be held accountable under the law. But we will never be like the Kyiv regime and the Western elites who are engaged in and have been engaged in the “witch hunt”, we will not settle scores with those who took a step aside, retreated from their homeland. Let it remain on their conscience, let them live with it – they have to live with it. The main thing is that the people, the citizens of Russia gave them a moral assessment.
I am proud – I think that we are all proud – that our multinational people, the vast majority of citizens have taken a principled position regarding the Special Military Operation – understood the meaning of the actions we are taking and are supportive of our actions to protect Donbass. In this support, first of all, real patriotism has manifested – a feeling that is historically inherent in our people. It amazes with its dignity, deep awareness by everyone, I emphasize, by everyone, of their own inextricable fate with the fate of the Fatherland.
Dear friends, I want to thank everyone, all the people of Russia for their courage and determination, to say thank you to our heroes, soldiers and Officers of the Army and Navy, the National Guard, members of the Special Services and all law enforcement agencies, soldiers of the Donetsk and LuGansk corps, Volunteers, and the Patriots who fight in the ranks Combat Army Reserve BARS.
I want to apologize I’m sorry that during today’s speech I can’t name everyone. You know, when I was preparing this speech, I wrote a long, long list of these heroic units, then I took it out of today’s speech, because, as I said, it is impossible to name everyone, and I was simply afraid to offend those whom I would could name.
Low bow to the parents, wives, families of our defenders, doctors and paramedics, medical instructors, nurses who save the wounded, railway workers and drivers who supply the front, builders who erect fortifications and restore housing, roads, civilian facilities, workers and engineers of defense plants, who now work almost around the clock, in several shifts, to rural workers who reliably ensure the food security of the country.
I thank the teachers who sincerely care about the young generations of Russia, especially those teachers who work in the most difficult situation, in fact front-line conditions; cultural figures who come to the War Zone, to hospitals to support soldiers and officers; volunteers who help the front and civilians; journalists, above all, of course, war correspondents who take risks on the front lines to tell the whole world the truth; pastors of Russian traditional religions, military priests, whose wise word supports and inspires people; civil servants and entrepreneurs – all those who fulfill their professional, civic and simply human duty.
Special words for residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions. You yourself, dear friends, you yourself determined your future in referendums, made a firm choice, despite the threats and terror of Neo-Nazis, in conditions when military operations were very close, but there was and is nothing stronger than your determination to be with Russia, with your Motherland.
I want to emphasize that this is the audience’s reaction to the residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, Zaporozhye and Kherson. Once again: low bow to all of them.
We have already begun and will continue to build up a large-scale program for the socio-economic recovery and development of these new subjects of the Federation. This includes reviving enterprises and jobs, the ports of the Sea of Azov, which has once again become an inland sea of Russia, and building new modern roads, as we did in Crimea, which now has a reliable land connection with all of Russia. We will definitely implement all these plans together.
Today, the regions of the country provide direct support to the cities, districts and villages of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, they do it sincerely, like real brothers and sisters. Now we are together again, which means we have become even stronger and will do everything to ensure that the long-awaited peace returns to our land, so that the safety of people is ensured. For this, for their ancestors, for the future of children and grandchildren, for the restoration of historical justice, for the reunification of our people, fighters, our heroes are fighting today.
Dear friends, I ask you to honour the memory of our comrades-in-arms who gave their lives for Russia, civilians, the elderly, women and children who died under shelling at the hands of Neo-Nazis and punishers.
(Moment of silence.)
We all understand, and I understand how unbearably hard it is now for the wives, sons, daughters of the fallen soldiers, their parents, who raised worthy defenders of the Fatherland – the same as the young guards of Krasnodon, like the boys and girls who fought against Nazism, defended the Donbass. All of Russia still remembers their courage, stamina, great fortitude, sacrifice.
Our duty is to support families that have lost their relatives, loved ones, help them raise, raise their children, give them an education and a profession. The family of each participant in a special military operation should be in the zone of constant attention, surrounded by care and honor. Their needs must be responded to immediately, without red tape.
I propose to create a Special State Fund. Its task will be targeted, personal assistance to the families of fallen soldiers and veterans of the special military operation. He will coordinate the provision of social, medical, psychological support, resolve issues of sanatorium treatment and rehabilitation, help in education, sports, employment, entrepreneurship, advanced training, and in obtaining a new profession. A separate most important task of the foundation is the organization of long-term care at home, high-tech prosthetics for everyone who needs it.
I ask the Government, together with the State Council Commission on Social Policy, the regions, to resolve all organizational issues as soon as possible.
The work of the state fund should be open, and the procedure for providing assistance should be simple, on the principle of “one window”, without treasury and bureaucracy. For each family, I emphasize, for each family of the deceased, for each Veteran, there should be assigned a personal social worker, a coordinator who, in the course of personal communication in real time, will resolve emerging issues. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that already this year the fund’s structures should be deployed in all regions of the Russian Federation.
We already have measures to support Veterans of the Great Patriotic War, Combat Veterans, and participants in local conflicts. I think that in the future the state fund, which I mentioned, can also deal with these important issues. We need to work it out, and I ask the Government to do it.
Let me emphasize that the creation of a Special Fund does not remove responsibility from other structures and levels of government. I expect all Federal Departments, regions and municipalities to continue to pay close attention to veterans, military personnel, and their families. And in this regard, I want to thank the leaders of the subjects of the Federation, mayors of cities, heads of regions, who constantly meet with people, go to the line of contact, and support their fellow countrymen.
What would you like to highlight in particular? Today, Professional Servicemen, Mobilized and Volunteers endure the hardships of the front together – we are talking about supplies and equipment, about monetary allowances and insurance payments in connection with the wound, about medical care. However, the appeals that come to me and to the governors – they also report to me about this – to the Military Prosecutor’s Office, to the Commissioner for Human Rights, indicate that not all of these issues have yet been resolved. It is necessary to understand in each specific case.
And one more thing: service in the zone of the Special Military Operation – everyone understands this very well – is associated with colossal physical and psychological stress, with everyday risks to health and life. Therefore, I consider it necessary to establish for the Mobilized, in general for all Military Personnel, for all participants in the Special Military Operation, including Volunteers, Regular leave lasting at least 14 days and at least once every six months, excluding travel time, so that each soldier has the opportunity to visit families, to be close to relatives and friends.
As you know, we have approved a plan for the construction and development of the Armed Forces for 2021-2025 by Presidential Decree. Work on its implementation is underway, the necessary adjustments are being made. And I would like to emphasize that our further steps to strengthen the army and navy and the current and prospective development of the Armed Forces must, of course, be based on real combat experience gained during a special military operation. It is extremely important to us, one might even say, absolutely priceless.
Now, for example, the level of equipping Russia’s nuclear deterrence forces with the latest systems is more than 91 percent, 91.3 percent. And now, I repeat, taking into account the experience we have gained, we must reach the same high-quality level in all components of the Armed Forces.
Officers and Sergeants who have shown themselves to be competent, modern and decisive Commanders – there are a lot of them – will be promoted to higher positions as a matter of priority, sent to military universities and academies, and serve as a powerful Personnel Reserve for the Armed Forces. And, of course, they should be in demand among civilians, in government at all levels. I just want to draw the attention of colleagues to this. It is very important. People should understand that the Motherland appreciates their contribution to the defence of the Fatherland.
We will actively introduce the most advanced technologies that will ensure an increase in the qualitative potential of the Army and Navy. We have such developments, samples of weapons and equipment in every area. Many of them are significantly superior to foreign counterparts in their characteristics. The task now before us is to deploy their mass production. And such work is ongoing. its pace is constantly increasing, and on our own, I want to emphasize this, on our own, the Russian scientific and industrial base, due to the active involvement of small and medium-sized high-tech businesses is implementing the State Defence Order.
Today, our factories, design bureaus, and research teams employ both experienced specialists and more and more young people, talented, qualified, committed to a breakthrough, faithful to the traditions of Russian gunsmiths – to do everything for victory.
We will certainly strengthen guarantees for labour collectives. This also applies to salaries and social security. I propose launching a Special Program of preferential rental housing for employees of defence industry enterprises. The rental rate for them will be significantly lower than the market rate, since a significant part of the housing payment will be covered by the State.
We certainly discussed this issue with the Government. I instruct you to work out all the details of this programme and, without delay, start building such rental housing, primarily, of course, in cities – our significant defence, industrial and research centres.
As I have already said, the West has deployed not only a military, informational, but also an economic front against us. But nowhere has he achieved anything and never will. Moreover, the initiators of the sanctions punish themselves: they provoked in their own countries a rise in prices, loss of jobs, closures of enterprises, an energy crisis, and they tell their citizens – we hear this – they say that the Russians are to blame for everything.
What means were used against us in this sanction aggression? They tried to cut economic ties with Russian companies, disconnect the financial system from communication channels in order to crush our economy, deprive us of access to export markets in order to hit incomes. This is the theft – there is no other way to say it – our foreign exchange reserves, attempts to collapse the Ruble and provoke destructive inflation.
I repeat, anti-Russian sanctions are just a means. And the goal, as the Western leaders themselves declare – a direct quote – is to “make suffering” for our citizens. “Make suffering” – so say the humanists. They want to make the people suffer, thereby destabilizing our society from within.
But their calculations did not materialize – the Russian economy and management system turned out to be much stronger than the West believed. Thanks to the joint work of the Government, Parliament, the Bank of Russia, the constituent entities of the Federation and, of course, the business community and labour collectives, we ensured the stability of the economic situation, protected citizens, saved jobs, prevented a shortage in the market, including essential goods, supported the financial system, entrepreneurs who invest in the development of their business, and therefore in the development of the country.
So, already in March last year, a package of measures to support businesses and the economy was launched for a total amount of about a trillion Rubles. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that this is not an emission policy, no, no, everything is done on a solid market basis.
At the end of 2022, the gross domestic product decreased. Mikhail Vladimirovich called and said: I would like you to tell me about it. Yesterday, in my opinion, this information came out, and rightly so, on time, as expected, everything is according to plan.
We were predicted, remember, economic recession of 20-25 percent, ten. More recently, we said: 2.9 – I said. A little later – 2.5. Gross domestic product fell 2.1 percent in 2022, the most recent data. At the same time, let me remind you that back in February-March of last year, as I said, they predicted a collapse of the economy for us.
Russian business has rebuilt logistics, strengthened ties with responsible, predictable partners – and there are many of them, most of them in the world.
I would like to note that the share of the Russian Ruble in our international settlements doubled compared to December 2021 and amounted to one third, and together with the currencies of friendly countries, this is already more than half.
Together with our partners, we will continue to work on the formation of a stable, secure system of international settlements, independent of the dollar and other Western reserve currencies, which, with such a policy of Western elites and Western rulers, will inevitably lose their universal character. They do everything with their own hands. It is not we who are reducing settlements in dollars or in other so-called universal currencies – they do everything with their own hands.
You know, there is such a stable expression: guns instead of butter. The defence of the country is, of course, the most important priority, but while solving strategic tasks in this area, we must not repeat the mistakes of the past, we must not destroy our own economy. We have everything to ensure security and create conditions for the country’s confident development. It is in this logic that we act and will continue to act.
For example, many basic, I would like to stress that it is the civilian sectors of the domestic economy, not only did not reduce, but significantly increased production over the past year. For the first time in the modern history of our country, housing commissioning volumes exceeded 100 million square meters.
As for our agricultural production, last year it showed double-digit growth rates. Thank you very much, low bow to agricultural producers. Russian farmers have harvested a record harvest: over 150 million tons of grain, including over 100 million tons of wheat. By the end of the agricultural year, that is, by June 30, 2023, we will be able to bring the total volume of grain exports to 5,560 million tons.
Even 10-15 years ago it seemed just a fairy tale, an absolutely unrealistic plan. If you remember – and certainly some here remember, the former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture is here – not so long ago, we collected 60 million in general – for the year, and now there will be 55–60 only for export potential. I am convinced that we have every opportunity for a similar breakthrough in other areas.
We have not allowed a drawdown in the labour market; on the contrary, we have achieved a reduction in unemployment in the current conditions. Today, in the face of such great difficulties on all sides, the labour market has become more comfortable than it was before. Remember, before the pandemic, unemployment was 4.7 percent, and now it is 3.7, in my opinion. Mikhail Vladimirovich, how much is 3.7? 3.7 is a historical minimum.
I repeat, the Russian economy has overcome the risks that have arisen – it has overcome it. Yes, many of these risks were impossible to calculate in advance, we had to respond literally from the wheels, as problems arose. Both at the state level and in business, decisions were made as quickly as possible. I would like to note that private initiative, small and medium-sized businesses have played a huge role here – this should not be forgotten. We have avoided excessive administrative regulation, the bias of the economy towards the state.
What else is important? The economic downturn last year was recorded only in the second quarter – already in the third and fourth quarters, growth and recovery were noted. We have actually entered a new cycle of economic growth. According to experts, its model and structure acquire a qualitatively different character. New and promising global markets are coming to the fore, including the Asia-Pacific [Asia-Pacific region], our own domestic market, scientific, technological, human resources: not the supply of raw materials abroad, but the production of high value-added goods. This makes it possible to unleash the enormous potential of Russia in all spheres and areas.
Already this year, a solid increase in domestic demand is predicted. I am sure that our companies will take advantage of this opportunity to increase production, produce the most demanded products, and occupy niches that have been vacated or are being vacated after the departure of Western companies.
Today we see the full picture, we understand the structural problems that we need to solve in logistics, technology, finance, and personnel. We have been talking a lot, constantly about the need to change the structure of our economy in recent years, and now these changes are a vital necessity, and this is changing the situation, and in this case for the better. We know what needs to be done for the steady progressive development of Russia, and specifically sovereign, independent development, despite any external pressure and threats, with a reliable guarantee of the security and interests of the state.
I draw your attention and want to emphasize this in particular: the point of our work is not to adapt to the current conditions. The strategic task is to bring our economy to new frontiers. Now everything is changing, and changing very, very quickly. This is a time of not only challenges, but also opportunities – today this is true, and our future life depends on how we implement them. It is necessary to remove – I want to emphasize this – to remove any interdepartmental contradictions, formalities, resentment, omissions, other nonsense. Everything for the cause, everything for the result – everything should be aimed at this.
The successful start of Russian companies, small family businesses is already a victory. The opening of modern factories and kilometers of new roads is a victory. A new school or kindergarten is a victory. Scientific discoveries and technologies are, of course, also a victory. Everyone’s contribution to the overall success is what matters.
In what areas should the partnership work of the state, regions, domestic business be focused?
First. We will expand promising foreign economic relations and build new logistics corridors. A decision has already been made to extend the Moscow-Kazan expressway to Yekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk and Tyumen, and in the future to Irkutsk and Vladivostok with access to Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China, which, among other things, will significantly expand our economic ties with the markets of Southeast Asia.
We will develop the ports of the Black and Azov Seas. We will pay special attention – we are already paying it, those who do it on a daily basis know – we will pay special attention to the North-South international corridor. Already this year, vessels with a draft of at least 4.5 meters will be able to pass through the Volga-Caspian Canal. This will open up new routes for business cooperation with India, Iran, Pakistan and the countries of the Middle East. We will continue to develop this corridor.
Our plans include the accelerated modernization of the eastern direction of the railways, the Trans-Siberian Railway and the BAM, and the expansion of the capabilities of the Northern Sea Route. This is not only additional cargo traffic, but also the basis for solving national problems for the development of Siberia, the Arctic and the Far East.
The infrastructure of the regions, the development of infrastructure, including communications, telecommunications, and the road network, will receive a powerful impetus. Already next year, in 2024, at least 85 percent of the roads in the largest agglomerations of the country, as well as more than half of the roads of regional and intermunicipal significance, will be brought to a standard state. I’m sure we’ll do it.
We will continue the program of free gasification. A decision has already been made to extend it to social facilities: kindergartens and schools, clinics, hospitals, feldsher and obstetric stations. And for citizens, such a program will now operate on an ongoing basis: they will always be able to apply for connection to gas supply networks.
This year, a large program for the construction and repair of housing and communal services begins. Within ten years, it is planned to invest at least 4.5 trillion Rubles in this area. We know how important this is for citizens, how neglected this area is – we need to work, and we will do it. It is important that the program immediately get a strong start, so I ask the Government to ensure its stable funding.
Second. We will have to significantly expand the technological capabilities of the Russian economy and ensure the growth of the capacities of the domestic industry.
An industrial mortgage tool has been launched, and now it will be possible to take a soft loan not only for the purchase of production facilities, but also for their construction or modernization. The amount of such a loan was discussed many times and they wanted to increase it, a decent amount, as a first step – very good: the amount of such a loan is up to 500 million Rubles. It is available at a rate of three or five percent for up to seven years. It seems to me a very good program, and it should be used.
Starting this year, a new mode of operation of industrial clusters has also been in effect, in which the fiscal and administrative burden on resident companies has been reduced, and the demand for their innovative products, which are just entering the market, is supported by long-term orders and subsidies from the state.
According to estimates, these measures should ensure the implementation of projects in demand in the amount of more than ten trillion Rubles by 2030, and already this year the expected amount of investments may be about two trillion. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that these are not just forecasts, but clearly established benchmarks.
Therefore, I ask the Government to speed up the launch of these projects as much as possible, lend a shoulder to business, and offer systemic support measures, including tax incentives. I know how the financial block does not like to provide benefits, and I partly share the following position: the taxation system should be integral, without any niches, exceptions, but a creative approach in this case is in demand.
So, starting this year, Russian companies can reduce income tax payments if they purchase advanced domestic IT solutions and products using artificial intelligence. Moreover, these costs are taken into account with an increased coefficient, one and a half times more than the actual costs. That is, for every ruble invested by the company in the purchase of such products, which I just mentioned, there is a tax deduction of one and a half Rubles.
I propose extending this tax benefit to the purchase of Russian high-tech equipment in general. I ask the Government to make proposals on a list of such equipment by industry in which it is used and on the procedure for granting benefits. This is a good decision that will revive the economy.
Third. The most important issue on the agenda for the development of economic growth is new sources of investment financing, we also talk about this a lot.
Thanks to a strong balance of payments, Russia does not need to borrow abroad, bow down, beg for money and then have a long dialogue about what, how much and under what conditions to give. Domestic banks operate stably and steadily, have a solid margin of safety.
In 2022, the volume of bank loans to the corporate sector has grown, you know, it has grown. There were many concerns about this, but growth has been recorded, and it has grown by 14 percent, which is more than in 2021, without any military operation. In 2021, the growth was 11.7 percent, and now it is 14 percent. The mortgage portfolio also added – 20.4 percent. Development is underway.
As a result of last year, the banking sector as a whole worked with a profit. Yes, it is not as big as in previous years, but decent: profit – 203 billion Rubles. This is also an indicator of the stability of the Russian financial sector.
According to estimates, already in the second quarter of this year, inflation in Russia will approach the target level of four percent. Let me remind you that in some EU countries it is already 12, 17, 20 percent, we have four, well five – the Central Bank, the Ministry of Finance are sorting out among themselves, but it will be closer to the target indicator. Given the positive dynamics of this and other macroeconomic parameters, objective conditions are being formed for reducing long-term lending rates in the economy, which means that credit for the real sector should become more accessible.
Everywhere in the world, long-term savings of citizens are an important source of investment resources, and we also need to stimulate their flow into the investment sector. I ask the Government to expedite the submission of bills to the State Duma to launch the relevant state program from April this year.
It is important to create additional conditions for citizens to invest and earn at home, within the country. At the same time, it is necessary to guarantee the safety of citizens’ investments in voluntary pension savings. There should be the same mechanism as in the system of bank deposit insurance. Let me remind you that such deposits of citizens in the amount of up to one million 400 thousand Rubles are insured by the state and their return is guaranteed. For voluntary pension savings, I propose to establish twice the amount – up to two million 800 thousand Rubles. It is also necessary to protect citizens’ investments in other long-term investment instruments, including from the possible bankruptcy of financial intermediaries.
Separate solutions are needed to attract capital to high-growth and high-tech businesses. They will be provided with support for the placement of shares on the domestic stock market, including tax incentives, both for companies and for buyers of such shares.
The most important element of economic sovereignty is the freedom of enterprise. I repeat: against the backdrop of external attempts to contain Russia, private business has proved that it can adapt to a rapidly changing environment and ensure economic growth in difficult conditions. Therefore, every business initiative aimed at benefiting the country should receive support.
In this regard, I consider it right to return to the issue of revising a number of norms of criminal law in terms of the so-called economic offenses. Of course, the state must control what is happening in this area, permissiveness cannot be allowed here, but there is no need to go too far either. It is necessary to move more actively towards this decriminalization, which I spoke about. I hope that the Government, together with the Parliament, law enforcement agencies, and business associations, will consistently and thoroughly carry out this work.
At the same time, I ask the Government, in close contact with the Parliament, to propose additional measures that will speed up the process of deoffshorization of the economy. Business, primarily in key sectors and industries, must operate in Russian jurisdiction – this is a basic principle.
And in this regard, dear colleagues, a small philosophical digression. What would you like to say separately?
We remember the problems and imbalances faced by the late Soviet economy. Therefore, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, its planned system, in the chaos of the 90s, the country began to create an economy based on market relations, private property – in general, everything is correct. In many ways, Western countries served as examples here – advisers, as you know, there were a dime a dozen here – and it seemed enough just to copy their models. True, they were still arguing among themselves, I remember this: the Europeans were arguing with the Americans about how the Russian economy should develop.
And what happened as a result? Our national economy has largely become oriented specifically towards the West, primarily as a source of raw materials. The nuances, of course, were different, but in general as a source of raw materials. The reasons for this are also understandable: the new, emerging Russian business was, of course, aimed, like all other businesses in all other countries, primarily aimed at making profit, and quick and easy at that. What brought her? This is the sale of resources: oil, gas, metals, timber.
Few people thought, and perhaps there was no such opportunity to invest for a long time, so other, more complex sectors of the economy developed poorly. And to break this negative trend – everyone saw it perfectly, in all governments – it took us years, adjustment of the tax system and large-scale public investments.
We have achieved real, visible change here. Yes, there is a result, but I repeat, we need to take into account the situation in which our, primarily large, business developed. Technology – in the West, cheaper financial sources and profitable markets – in the West, of course, and capital began to flow there too. Unfortunately, instead of going to expand production, to buy equipment and technologies, to create new jobs here, in Russia, they were also spent on foreign estates, yachts, and luxury real estate.
Yes, then they began to invest, of course, in development, of course, but at the first stage, everything went there in a wide stream to a large extent for these purposes – for consumption. And where there is wealth, there, of course, are children, their education, their life, their future. And it was very difficult for the State to track and prevent such a development of the situation, almost impossible – we lived in the free market paradigm.
Recent events have convincingly shown that the image of the West as a safe haven and a haven for capital turned out to be a ghost, a fake. And those who did not understand this in time, who considered Russia only as a source of income, and planned to live mainly abroad, lost a lot: they were simply robbed there, even legally earned money was taken away.
Somehow as a joke – many probably remember – addressing the representatives of Russian business, I said: you are tormented by swallowing dust, running around the courts and offices of Western officials, saving your money. That’s exactly how it all happened.
You know, now I will add a very important – simple, but very important – thing: believe me, none of the ordinary citizens of the country took pity on those who lost their capital in foreign banks, did not pity those who lost their yachts, palaces abroad, and so on, and the like, and in conversations in the kitchen, people probably remembered both the privatization of the 90s, when enterprises created by the whole country went for nothing, and the ostentatious, demonstrative luxury of the so-called new elites.
What else is of fundamental importance? All the years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the West did not stop trying to set fire to the post-Soviet states and, most importantly, finally finish off Russia as the largest surviving part of our historical State space. They encouraged and incited international terrorists against us, provoked regional conflicts along the perimeter of our borders, ignored our interests and used means of economic deterrence and suppression.
And big Russian business – why I say all this – is responsible for the work of strategic enterprises, for thousands of labour collectives, determines the socio-economic situation in many regions, which means the state of affairs: when the leaders and owners of such a business find themselves dependent on governments that pursue an unfriendly policy towards Russia, poses a great threat to us, a danger – a danger to our country. Such a situation cannot be tolerated.
Yes, everyone has a choice: someone wants to live out his life in an arrested mansion with blocked accounts, tries to find a place, it would seem, in an attractive Western capital or in a resort, in another warm place abroad – this is the right of any person, we don’t even try it. But it’s time to understand that for the West, such people were and will remain second-rate strangers with whom you can do whatever you want, and money, and connections, and purchased titles of counts, peers, mayors will not help here at all. They must understand they are second class there.
But there is another choice: to be with your Motherland, to work for compatriots, not only to open new enterprises, but also to change life around you – in cities, towns, in your own country. And we have many such entrepreneurs, such true fighters in business – it is for them that the future of domestic business is behind them. Everyone must understand that both the sources of well-being and the future should be only here, in their native country, in Russia.
And then we will really create a solid, self-sufficient economy that does not shut itself off from the world, but uses all its competitive advantages. Russian capital, money received here should work for the country, for its national development. Today, we have great prospects in the development of infrastructure, manufacturing, domestic tourism, and in many other industries.
I want to be heard by those who are faced with the wolf habits of the West: trying to run with an outstretched hand, humiliate yourself, begging for your money, is pointless and, most importantly, useless, especially now that you understand very well who you are dealing with. Now you should not cling to the past, try to sue something, beg. We need to rebuild our lives and our work, especially since you are strong people – I am talking to representatives of our business, I know many personally and for many years – who have gone through a difficult life school.
Launch new projects, earn money, invest in Russia, invest in businesses and jobs, help schools and universities, science and healthcare, culture and sports. This is how you increase your capital, and earn recognition, gratitude of people for a generation to come, and the state and society will certainly support you.
We will consider that this is a parting word to our business – to build work in the right direction.
Russia is an open country and at the same time a distinctive civilization. In this statement there is no claim to exclusivity and superiority, but this civilization is ours – that’s the main thing. It was given to us by our ancestors, and we must preserve it for our descendants and pass it on.
We will develop cooperation with friends, with everyone who is ready to work together, we will adopt all the best, but rely primarily on our potential, on the creative energy of Russian society, on our traditions and values.
And here I want to say about the character of our people: they have always been distinguished by generosity, breadth of soul, mercy and compassion, and Russia as a country fully reflects these traits in itself. We know how to be friends, keep our word, we will not let anyone down and will always support in a difficult situation, without hesitation we come to the aid of those who are in trouble.
Everyone remembers how, during the pandemic, we provided – the first, in fact – support to some European countries, including Italy, other states, in the most difficult weeks of the covid outbreak. Let’s not forget how we come to the rescue in case of an earthquake in Syria, in Turkey.
It is the people of Russia who are the basis of the country’s sovereignty, the source of power. The rights and freedoms of our citizens are inviolable, they are guaranteed by the Constitution, and, despite external challenges and threats, we will not retreat from them.
In this regard, I want to emphasize that both the elections to local and regional authorities in September this year and the presidential elections in 2024 will be held in strict accordance with the law, in compliance with all democratic, constitutional procedures.
Elections are always different approaches to solving social and economic problems. At the same time, the leading political forces are consolidated and united in the main thing, and most importantly, fundamental for all of us is the security and well-being of the people, sovereignty and national interests.
I want to thank you for such a responsible, firm position and recall the words of the patriot and Statesman Pyotr Arkadyevich Stolypin – they were said in the State Duma more than a hundred years ago, but they are fully in tune with our time. He said: “In the matter of defending Russia, we all must unite, coordinate our efforts, our duties and our rights in order to maintain one historical supreme right – the right of Russia to be strong.”
Among the Volunteers who are now at the forefront are Deputies of the State Duma and regional parliaments, representatives of executive authorities at various levels, municipalities, cities, districts, rural settlements. All parliamentary parties, leading public associations participate in the collection of humanitarian supplies and help the front.
Thank you again – thank you for such a Patriotic stance.
A huge role in strengthening civil society, in solving everyday problems is played by local self-government – the level of public authority closest to people. The trust in the state as a whole, the social well-being of citizens, their confidence in the successful development of the whole country largely depends on its work.
I ask the Presidential Administration, together with the Government, to submit proposals for creating tools for direct support of the best management teams, practices in large, medium and small municipalities.
The free development of society is the readiness to take responsibility for oneself and for loved ones, for one’s country. Such qualities are laid from childhood, in the family. And of course, the education system and national culture are extremely important for strengthening our common values and national identity.
Using the resources of the Presidential Grants Fund, the Cultural Initiatives Fund, the Internet Development Institute, and other tools, the state will support all forms of creative research – modern and traditional art, realism and avant-garde, classics and innovation. It’s not about genres and trends. Culture is called upon to serve goodness, beauty, harmony, to reflect on sometimes very complex, controversial issues of life, and most importantly, not to destroy society, but to awaken the best human qualities.
The development of the cultural sphere will become one of the priorities for the revival of peaceful life in the Donbass and New Russia. Here it will be necessary to restore, repair and equip hundreds of cultural institutions, including museum funds and buildings, something that gives people the opportunity to feel the relationship between the past and the present, connect it with the future, feel belonging to a single cultural, historical, educational space of centuries-old, great Russia.
With the participation of teachers, scientists, specialists, we must seriously improve the quality of school and university courses, primarily in the humanities – history, social science, literature, geography – so that young people can learn as much as possible about Russia, its great past, about our culture and traditions.
We have a very bright, talented young generation that is ready to work for the good of the country in science, culture, the social sphere, business and public administration. It is for such people that the Leaders of Russia competition, as well as the Leaders of Revival competition now taking place in the new regions of the Federation, opens up new horizons for professional growth.
I would like to note that a number of winners and finalists of these projects volunteered for military units, many of them are now working in the liberated territories, helping to establish economic and social life, while acting professionally, decisively and courageously.
In general, the school of military operations cannot be replaced by anything. People come out of there differently and are ready to lay down their lives for the Fatherland, wherever they work.
I want to emphasize that it is those who were born and raised in the Donbass and Novorossiya, who fought for them, who will be the main support, should be the main support in the common work to develop these regions. I want to address them and say: Russia is counting on you.
Taking into account the large-scale tasks facing the country, we must seriously update our approaches to the system of personnel training and science and technology policy.
At the recent Council on Science and Education, we spoke about the need to clearly set priorities, to concentrate resources on obtaining specific, fundamentally significant scientific results, primarily in those areas where we have good groundwork and which are of critical importance for the life of the country, including transport, energy, the same system of housing and communal services, medicine, agriculture, industry.
New technologies are almost always based on fundamental research, fundamental research done in the past, and in this area, as well as in culture, I want to emphasize this, we must provide scientists and researchers with greater freedom for creativity. You can’t drive everyone into a Procrustean bed of tomorrow’s results. Fundamental science lives by its own laws.
And I will add that setting and solving ambitious tasks is a powerful incentive for young people to go into science, an opportunity to prove that you are a leader, that you are the best in the world. And our scientific teams have much to be proud of.
Last December I met with young researchers. One of the issues they raised was housing. The prose is such, but important. We already have housing certificates for young scientists. Last year, an additional one billion Rubles were allocated for these purposes. I instruct the Government to determine the reserves for expanding this program.
In recent years, the prestige and authority of secondary vocational education has grown significantly. The demand for graduates of technical schools and colleges is simply huge, colossal. You see, if our unemployment has fallen to a historic low of 3.7 percent, it means that people are working, and new personnel are needed.
I believe that we should significantly expand the Professionalism project, within which educational and industrial clusters are created, the educational base is updated, and enterprises and employers, in close contact with colleges and technical schools, form educational programs based on the needs of the economy. And of course, it is very important that mentors with experience in real, complex production come to this area.
The specific task is to train about a million specialists in working professions for the electronics industry, the robotics industry, mechanical engineering, metallurgy, pharmaceuticals, agriculture and the defense industry, construction, transport, nuclear and other industries that are key to ensuring the security, sovereignty and competitiveness of Russia over the next five years.
Finally, a very important question is about our higher education. Significant changes are also overdue here, taking into account the new requirements for specialists in the economy, social sectors, and in all spheres of our life. A synthesis of all the best that was in the Soviet system of education and the experience of recent decades is needed.
In this regard, the following is proposed.
The first is to return to the basic training of specialists with higher education, traditional for our country. The term of study can be from four to six years. At the same time, even within the same specialty and one university, programs can be offered that differ in terms of training time, depending on the specific profession, industry and labor market demand.
Secondly, if the profession requires additional training, narrow specialization, then in this case the young person will be able to continue his education in a magistracy or residency.
Thirdly, postgraduate studies will be allocated as a separate level of professional education, the task of which is to train personnel for scientific and teaching activities.
I want to emphasize that the transition to the new system should be smooth. The government, together with parliamentarians, will need to make numerous amendments to the legislation on education, on the labor market, and so on. Here you need to think through everything, work out to the smallest detail. Young people, our citizens should have new opportunities for quality education, employment and professional growth. I repeat: opportunities, not problems.
And I would like to emphasize that those students who are studying now will be able to continue their education according to existing programs. And also, the level of training and diplomas of higher education of citizens who have already completed training in the current undergraduate, specialist or master’s programs are not subject to revision. They must not lose their rights. I ask the All-Russian Popular Front to take all issues related to changes in the field of higher education under special control.
This year has been declared the Year of the Teacher and Mentor in Russia. The teacher is directly involved in building the future of the country, and it is important to increase the social significance of teaching work so that parents tell their children more about gratitude to the teacher, and teachers about respect and love for parents. Let’s always remember this.
I will dwell separately on the support of children and Russian families.
I would like to note that the so-called children’s budget, or the volume of budget expenditures to support families, has grown in Russia in recent years not by some percentage, but by several times. It is the fastest growing section of the main financial document of the country – the budget, the budget law. I want to thank the parliamentarians and the Government for such a unified, consolidated understanding of our national priorities.
Since February 1, maternity capital in Russia has been indexed again, as we said, by the amount of actual inflation over the past year, that is, by 11.9 percent. The citizens of Russia, residents of the new subjects of the Federation, now have the right to such a measure of support. I propose to provide maternity capital in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions to families in which children were born since 2007, that is, from the moment this program began to operate throughout Russia. Let me remind you that we made the same decision at the time for the residents of Crimea and Sevastopol.
We will continue to implement large-scale programmess aimed at improving the well-being of Russian families.
Let me emphasize that the Government and the constituent entities of the Federation have been given the objective task of ensuring a noticeable, tangible increase in real wages in Russia.
An important indicator, the starting point here is the minimum wage, as we well understand. Last year it was raised twice, by almost 20 percent in total.
We will continue to increase the minimum wage, and at a rate above inflation and wage growth. Since the beginning of this year, the minimum wage has been indexed by 6.3 percent.
I propose that starting from January 1 next year, in addition to the planned increase, one more increase will be carried out – by an additional ten percent. Thus, the minimum wage will increase by 18.5 percent and amount to 19,242 Rubles.
Now, regarding the adjustment of the tax system in the interests of Russian families: since last year, families with two or more children are exempt from paying tax on the sale of housing if they decide to purchase a new, more spacious apartment or house.
We need to make more active use of such tools – they have proved to be in demand – so that family budgets have more funds, and families can solve the most important, pressing problems.
I propose to increase the size of the social tax deduction: for the cost of educating children – from the current 50 thousand to 110 thousand Rubles a year, and for the cost of their own education, as well as for treatment and the purchase of medicines – from 120 to 150 thousand Rubles. The state will return 13 percent of these increased amounts to citizens from the income tax they paid.
And of course, it is necessary not only to increase the amount of the deduction, but also to increase its demand so that the deduction is provided in a proactive mode, quickly and remotely, and is not burdensome for citizens.
Further: the well-being and quality of life of Russian families, and hence the demographic situation, directly depend on the state of affairs in the social sphere.
I know that many subjects of the Federation are ready to significantly accelerate the renewal of social infrastructure, cultural and sports facilities, the resettlement of emergency housing, and the integrated development of rural areas. This attitude will certainly be supported.
We use the following mechanism here: funds for national projects, which are reserved in the federal budget for 2024, the regions will be able to receive and use right now through interest-free treasury loans – they will be automatically repaid in April next year. Good tool.
We will keep this issue under constant operational control, and I ask the State Council Commission on Economics and Finance to join this work.
At the same time, we do not need storming and the pursuit of volumes, especially to the detriment of the quality of the objects being built. Additional financial resources should work with high returns and effectiveness.
This is especially important for the modernization of primary health care – such a large-scale program was launched in our country in 2021. I ask the Government and regional leaders not to forget that the main criterion, as I have said many, many times, is not the numbers in the reports, but specific, visible, tangible changes in the availability and quality of medical care.
I also instruct the Government to adjust the regulatory framework for organizing the procurement of ambulances with a set of diagnostic equipment. They make it possible to conduct medical examinations and preventive examinations directly at enterprises, schools, institutions, and remote settlements.
We have launched a large school renovation programme. By the end of this year, a total of almost 3,500 school buildings will be put in order. I draw your attention to the fact that most of them are in rural areas, we did this on purpose. This year, such work is also unfolding in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, in the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions. It is meaningful and visible; people really see what is happening. This is very good.
From 2025, federal funds for the repair and renovation of kindergartens, schools, technical schools and colleges will be allocated to the regions on a regular, systematic basis, in order to basically prevent situations when buildings are in a state of disrepair.
Next, we have set a meaningful goal of building more than 1,300 new schools between 2019 and 2024. 850 of them are already open. It is planned that another 400 will be commissioned this year. I ask the regions to adhere to these plans, strictly adhere to them. The amount of funding for this program from the federal budget from 2019 to 2024 is almost 490 billion Rubles. We are not reducing these costs; we will keep it all.
This year we have increased the amount of infrastructure budget loans. We are sending additional funds – I would like to emphasize this: not as previously planned, but additionally – 250 billion Rubles for the development of transport, utilities and other infrastructure in the regions.
I instruct the Government to allocate another 50 billion Rubles in addition to these funds – they will be purposefully used to upgrade public transport in the constituent entities of the Federation this year, moreover, based on modern technologies. At the same time, I ask you to pay special attention here to small towns and rural areas.
We have already decided to extend the Clean Air project until 2030, the goal of which is to improve the environmental situation in the largest industrial centers. I draw the attention of both industrial companies and regional and local authorities: the task of significantly reducing harmful emissions is not removed from the agenda.
Let me add that we have made good progress in reforming the waste management industry. Increasing recycling and sorting capacity to move towards a circular economy. The priority is the further elimination of old garbage dumps and dangerous objects of accumulated harm. I ask the Government, together with the regions, to prepare now a list of those objects of accumulated harm that will be eliminated after the completion of the current programme.
We will continue the rehabilitation of unique water bodies, including Baikal and the Volga, and in the medium term we will extend this work to our rivers such as the Don, Kama, Irtysh, Ural, Terek, Volkhov and Neva, Lake Ilmen. We must not forget about our medium and small rivers. I draw the attention of all levels of government to this.
On the instructions given earlier, a draft law on the development of tourism in specially protected natural areas has also been prepared. Recently discussed it with colleagues from the Government. It must clearly define what and where can and cannot be built, and in general the principles of the ecotourism industry. A very important issue for our country. I ask the State Duma to expedite consideration of this bill.
Now a few more words about what is happening around us.
Dear colleagues, I will dwell on one more topic.
In early February of this year, the North Atlantic Alliance made a statement with a de facto demand on Russia, as they say, to return to the implementation of the strategic offensive arms treaty, including the admission of inspections to our nuclear defense facilities. But I don’t even know what to call it. This is a theater of the absurd.
We know that the West is directly involved in the attempts of the Kyiv regime to strike at the bases of our strategic aviation. The drones used for this were equipped and modernized with the assistance of NATO specialists. And now they also want to inspect our defence facilities? In the modern conditions of today’s confrontation, this sounds like some kind of nonsense.
At the same time, and I would like to draw special attention to this, we are not allowed to carry out full-fledged inspections within the framework of this agreement. Our repeated applications for the inspection of certain objects remain unanswered or are rejected on formal grounds, and we cannot really check anything on the other side.
I want to emphasize that the US and NATO openly say that their goal is to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia. And what, after that they are going to drive around our defense facilities, including the newest ones, as if nothing had happened? A week ago, for example, I signed a decree on putting new ground-based strategic systems on combat duty. Are they going to stick their nose in there too? And they think it’s so easy – we’re going to let them in just like that?
By making its collective statement, NATO actually made a bid to become a party to the Strategic Offensive Arms Treaty. We agree with this, please. Moreover, we believe that such a formulation of the issue is long overdue, because, let me remind you, NATO is not just one nuclear power – the United States, the UK and France also have nuclear arsenals, they are being improved, developed and also directed against Russia. The latest statements of their leaders only confirm this – listen.
We simply cannot ignore this, we have no right, especially today, as well as the fact that the first Strategic Offensive Arms Treaty was originally concluded by the Soviet Union and the United States in 1991 in a fundamentally different situation: in conditions of reducing tension and strengthening mutual trust. In the future, our relations reached a level where Russia and the United States declared that they no longer consider each other adversaries. Great, everything was very good.
The current Treaty of 2010 contains the most important provisions on the indivisibility of security, on the direct relationship between issues of strategic offensive and defensive arms. All this has long been forgotten, the United States withdrew from the ABM Treaty, as you know, everything is a thing of the past. Our relations, which is very important, have degraded, and this is entirely the “merit” of the United States.
It was they, it was they who, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, began to revise the results of the Second World War, to build an American-style world, in which there is only one owner, one master. To do this, they began to rudely destroy all the foundations of the world order, laid down after the Second World War, in order to cross out the legacy of both Yalta and Potsdam. Step by step, they began to revise the existing world order, dismantle security and arms control systems, planned and carried out a whole series of wars around the world.
And all, I repeat, with one goal – to break the architecture of international relations created after the Second World War. This is not a figure of speech – in practice, in life, everything happens: after the collapse of the USSR, they forever strive to fix their global dominance, regardless of the interests of modern Russia and the interests of other countries too.
Of course, the situation in the world after 1945 changed. New centres of development and influence have been formed and are rapidly developing. This is a natural, objective process that cannot be ignored. But it is unacceptable that the United States began to reshape the world order just for itself, exclusively in its own, selfish interests.
Now, through NATO representatives, they are giving signals, and in fact putting forward, an ultimatum: you, Russia, carry out everything that you agreed on, including the START Treaty, unquestioningly, and we will behave as we please. Like, there is no connection between the issues of START and, say, the conflict in Ukraine, other hostile actions of the West against our country, just as there are no loud statements that they want to inflict a strategic defeat on us. This is either the height of hypocrisy and cynicism, or the height of stupidity, but you cannot call them idiots – they are still not stupid people. They want to inflict a strategic defeat on us and climb on our nuclear facilities.
In this regard, I am compelled to announce today that Russia is suspending its participation in the Strategic Offensive Arms Treaty. I repeat, it does not withdraw from the Treaty, no, it suspends its participation. But before returning to the discussion of this issue, we must understand for ourselves what such countries of the North Atlantic Alliance as France and Great Britain still claim, and how we will take into account their strategic arsenals, that is, the alliance’s combined strike potential.
They have now made their statement, in fact, an application for participation in this process. Well, thank God, come on, we don’t mind. It is not only necessary to try again to lie to everyone, to build yourself out as champions of peace and detente. We know all the ins and outs: we know that the warranty periods of validity for combat use of certain types of nuclear weapons of the United States are expiring. And in this regard, we know for certain that some politicians in Washington are already thinking about the possibility of natural testing of their nuclear weapons, including taking into account the fact that the United States is developing new types of nuclear weapons. There is such information.
In this situation, the Russian Ministry of Defence and Rosatom must ensure readiness for testing Russian nuclear weapons. Of course, we will not be the first to do this, but if the United States conducts tests, then we will conduct them. No one should have the dangerous illusion that global strategic parity can be destroyed.
Dear Colleagues! Dear citizens of Russia!
Today we are going through a difficult, difficult path together and overcoming all difficulties together. It could not be otherwise, because we were brought up on the example of our great ancestors and are obliged to be worthy of their precepts, which are passed down from generation to generation. We only go forward thanks to devotion to the Motherland, will and our unity.
This solidarity manifested itself literally from the first days of the special military operation: hundreds of volunteers, representatives of all the peoples of our country, came to the military registration and enlistment offices, decided to stand next to the defenders of Donbass, fight for their native land, for the Fatherland, for truth and justice. Now warriors from all regions of our multinational Motherland are fighting shoulder to shoulder on the front line. Their prayers sound in different languages, but they are all for victory, for comrades-in-arms, for the Motherland. (Applause.)
Their hard, military work, their feat finds a powerful response throughout Russia. People support our fighters, they don’t want to, they can’t stand aside. The front is now passing through the hearts of millions of our people, they are sending medicines, means of communication, equipment, vehicles, warm clothes, camouflage nets and so on to the front line – everything that helps to save the lives of our guys.
I know how letters from children and schoolchildren warm front-line soldiers. They take them with them into battle as the most precious thing, because the sincerity and purity of children’s wishes are touched to tears, the fighters have a stronger understanding of what they are fighting for, whom they are protecting.
It is very significant for the soldiers and their families, for civilians, and the care that volunteers surround them with. From the very beginning of the special operation, they acted boldly and decisively: under fire, shelling, they took out children, the elderly, everyone who was in trouble from the basements, they delivered food, water, clothes to hot spots and still do this, they deploy humanitarian aid centers for refugees , help in field hospitals and on the line of contact, at the risk of themselves, save and continue to save others.
Only the Popular Front, within the framework of the “Everything for Victory!” collected more than five billion Rubles. This stream of donations goes on all the time. The contribution of everyone is equally important here: both a large company and entrepreneurs, but situations are especially touching and inspiring when people with modest incomes transfer part of their savings, salaries and pensions. Such unity to help our soldiers, civilians in the war zone, refugees is worth a lot.
Thank you for this sincere support, solidarity and mutual assistance. They cannot be overestimated.
Russia will respond to any challenges, because we are all one country, one big and united people. We are confident in ourselves, confident in our abilities. The truth is behind us. (Applause.)
Russian Language Reference:
Послание-2023. «Мы уверены в себе, уверены в своих силах. Правда — за нами»