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Datum objave: 01.03.2018

President of Russia H.E. Vladimir Putin

Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly

President of Russia H.E. Vladimir Putin

Talks with Federal Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz

Vladimir Putin had a meeting with Federal Chancellor of the Republic of Austria Sebastian Kurz who is in Russia on a working visit.

The two leaders discussed the current state of bilateral relations and their development prospects.

Vladimir Putin and Sebastian Kurz gave a joint news conference following their talks.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Federal Chancellor, friends,

First, let me thank you for accepting our invitation.

To commence our conversation I would like to emphasise the special relations we have been building for many years. They influence the most important area, the economy.

Last year we saw a growth in mutual trade of over 40 percent. Russian investments to Austria’s economy reached $23 billion, while Austrian investments into Russia’s economy accounted for $5 billion. We have an intergovernmental commission and other instruments that are working well.

Mr Chancellor, we are delighted to see you. We have a wide range of matters of mutual interest to discuss.

 Federal Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz (retranslated):Mr President Putin,

I heartily thank you for the opportunity to meet with you here in Moscow. As Foreign Minister, I have had the honour in recent years to enjoy good cooperation with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Ii is a pleasure to be here in Moscow as Federal Chancellor.

We have a long-standing tradition of good bilateral relations. As you have said, since last year we have witnessed a positive development of economic ties, including tourism. I will be happy to discuss with you bilateral relations, their improvement, relations between the European Union and Russia, and international issues.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

Joint news conference with Federal Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz

List of journalists accredited to cover the Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly has been published

Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly

The President of Russia delivered the Address to the Federal Assembly. The ceremony took place at the Manezh Central Exhibition Hall.

The presentation of the Address was attended by Federation Council members, State Duma deputies, members of the Government, leaders of the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court, governors, speakers of the legislatures of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation, the leaders of traditional religions, public figures, including the heads of regional civic chambers, as well as the leaders of major media outlets.

* * *

Today’s Address is a very special landmark event, just as the times we are living in, when the choices we make and every step we take are set to shape the future of our country for decades to come.

It is at such turning points that Russia has proven, time and again, its ability to develop and renew itself, discover new territories, build cities, conquer space and make major discoveries. This unwavering forward-looking drive, coupled with traditions and values, ensured the continuity in the thousand-year-long history of our nation.

We have gone through major challenging transformations, and were able to overcome new and extremely complex economic and social challenges, preserved the unity of our country, built a democratic society and set it on the path to freedom and independence.

We ensured sustainability and stability in almost all areas of life, which is critical for a huge and multi-ethnic country like ours with its complex federative structure and diversity of cultures, with historical divides that are still alive in people’s memory and major challenges Russia had to face over the course of its history.

However, sustainability is the foundation of development but not its guarantee. We have no right to allow a situation when the stability that has been achieved would lead to complacency, all the more so as many problems remain unresolved.

Today, Russia ranks among the world’s leading nations with a powerful foreign economic and defence potential. But we have not yet reached the required level in the context of accomplishing our highly important task and guaranteeing people’s quality of life and prosperity. But we must do this, and we will do this.

As I said in the past, the state’s role and positions in the modern world are not determined only or predominantly by natural resources or production capacities; the decisive role is played by the people, as well as conditions for every individual’s development, self-assertion and creativity. Therefore, everything hinges on efforts to preserve the people of Russia and to guarantee the prosperity of our citizens We must achieve a decisive breakthrough in this area.

I repeat, a solid foundation has been created for this. Therefore, we can now set and accomplish new tasks. We already have substantial experience in implementing ambitious programmes and social projects. The Russian economy has proved its resilience, and the current stable macro-economic situation opens up new opportunities for surging ahead and maintaining long-term growth.

Finally, the world is now accumulating a tremendous technological potential making it possible to achieve a real breakthrough in improving the people’s quality of life and modernising the economy, the infrastructure and state governance and administration. How effectively we will able to use the colossal potentialities of the technological revolution, and how we will respond to its challenges depends on us alone. In this sense, the next few years will prove decisive for the country’s future. I reiterate, these years will be decisive.

I will tell you why. What I will say now has no connection to the domestic political cycle or even the presidential election. No matter who is elected President, each Russian citizen and all of us together must be able to see what is going on in the world, what is happening around us, and what challenges we are facing.

The speed of technological progress is accelerating sharply. It is rising dramatically. Those who manage to ride this technological wave will surge far ahead. Those who fail to do this will be submerged and drown in this wave.

Technological lag and dependence translate into reduced security and economic opportunities of the country and, ultimately, the loss of its sovereignty. This is the way things stand now. The lag inevitably weakens and erodes the human potential. Because new jobs, modern companies and an attractive life will develop in other, more successful countries where educated and talented young people will go, thereby draining the society’s vital powers and development energy.

As I have said, changes concern the entire civilization, and the sheer scale of these changes calls for an equally powerful response. We are ready to provide it. We are ready for a genuine breakthrough.

My confidence is based on the results we have achieved together, even though they may seem modest at first glance, as well as on the unity of Russian society and, most importantly, on the huge potential of Russia and our talented and ingenious people.

In order to move forward and to develop dynamically, we must expand freedom in all spheres, strengthen democratic institutions, local governments, civil society institutions and courts, and also open the country to the world and to new ideas and initiatives.

It is high time we take a number of tough decisions that are long overdue. We need to get rid of anything that stands in the way of our development and prevents people from fully unleashing their potential. It is our obligation to focus all resources and summon all our strength and willpower in this daring effort that must yield results.

Otherwise, there will be no future for us, our children or our country. It is not a question of someone conquering or devastating our land. No, that is not the danger. The main threat and our main enemy is the fact that we are falling behind. If we are unable to reverse this trend, we will fall even further behind. This is like a serious chronic disease that steadily saps the energy from the body and destroys it from within step by step. Quite often, this destructive process goes unnoticed by the body.

We need to master creative power and boost development so that no obstacles prevent us from moving forward with confidence and independently. We must take ownership of our destiny.


What should be our priority? Let me reiterate that I believe that the main, key development factor is the well-being of the people and the prosperity of Russian families.

Let me remind you that in 2000, 42 million people lived below the poverty line, which amounted to nearly 30 percent – 29 percent of the population. In 2012, this indicator fell to 10 percent.

Poverty has increased slightly against the backdrop of the economic crisis. Today, 20 million Russian nationals live in poverty. Of course, this is much fewer than the 42 million people in 2000, but it is still way too many. There are even working people who have to live very modest lives.

For the first time in our recent history, the minimum wage was equated with the subsistence level. This provision will come into force on May 1, 2018, and will benefit about 4 million people. This is an important step but it still falls short of offering a fundamental solution.

We need to upgrade the employment structure that has become inefficient and archaic, provide good jobs that motivate people, improve their well-being and help them uncover their talents. We need to create decent well-paid jobs. This would help deliver on one of the key objectives for the next decade, which is to guarantee sustained long-term real income growth, and to reduce the poverty rate by at least one half over the next six years.

It is our moral duty to provide all-round support to members of the older generation, who have made a tremendous contribution to national development. Senior citizens must have worthy conditions for a long, active and healthy life. Most importantly, we must raise pensions and index them regularly, so that they outpace inflation. We will also strive to reduce the gap between the size of pensions and pre-retirement wages. And, of course, we must raise the quality of healthcare and social support for senior citizens and help people who are alone and those facing problems in life.

We need to address all these issues using a comprehensive approach. As I see it, the future new Government will have to draft a special programme for the systematic support of senior citizens and for improving their quality of life.

We consider every person important and valuable. People need to know that they are needed, and they must live a long and healthy life and enjoy their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They need to see their children grow up and become successful in a powerful, rapidly developing and successful country that is attaining new development levels.

Russia must firmly assert itself among the five largest global economies, and its per-capita GDP must increase by 50 percent by the middle of the next decade. This is a very difficult task. I am confident that we are ready to accomplish it.

Of course, life expectancy is a highly important fundamental parameter for gauging the well-being of citizens and the country. In 2000, Russia posted a life expectancy of just over 65 years, with men’s life expectancy falling below 60 years. This is not just low, it is a tragedy, and this parameter is tragically inadequate.

In the past few years, Russia has been posting a major increase in average life expectancy levels, which is among the highest in the world. We have managed to accomplish this task. Life expectancy levels have increased by over seven years and now total 73 years. But, of course, this is not enough either. Today, we must set an entirely new goal. By the end of the next decade, Russia must confidently join the club of countries posting a life expectancy of 80-plus years, which includes Japan, France and Germany.

At the same time, life expectancy levels for people living a healthy, active and full life, when they are not hampered and pinned down by illness, must grow faster than planned. I am confident that we can achieve this goal, considering the positive trends of the previous years. For this purpose, the whole of Russia will have to make a quantum leap in its development, so that the life of every person is transformed.

Central Exhibition Hall ‘Manege’

The building of ‘Big Manege’ was constructed in 1817 under the order of Alexander I to celebrate the fifth anniversary of victory in 1812 war. It took eight months to complete this construction designed by Agustin Betancourt and executed by a special group of engineers and architects subordinate to a Moscow chief inspector of hydraulic and land works Major General Lev Karboniye. Back then the building used to be called an ‘exercise house” (house of military exercises).

It is hard to say that everything went smooth with the construction. The idea offered by Betancourt and implemented by Karboniye presupposed a unique technological principle: exclusive roof rafter construction bridging the area of 44.86 meters without any intermediary supports. However, Manege’s two trussed rafters cracked in hot end July 1818. They were fixed but the following year they were damaged again. By the highest command of Alexander I the rafters had been rebuilt from September 1823 to May 1824 and their number increased from 30 to 45. In August 1824 Manege roof was finished with a ceiling. The machinery wonder of empire-style times was the result of joint contribution from many architects. Betancourt’s and Karboniye’s ideas were executed by honest and modest professionals almost forgotten: Colonel R.R. Bausa, engineer lieutenant A.Y. Kashperov and other. A known Moscow architect Joseph Bové, a chief architect of the Commission for buildings, finished Manege with stucco and plaster moldings in 1825. Since 1831 Manege has been hosting regular concerts and entertainments. After the revolution, it became a government garage and at the time of Nikita Khrushchev (since 1957) a Central Exhibition Hall was opened in the building. Sergei Petrov, a researcher who had been studying the Manege construction as a head of USSR General Office for Memorials Protection, told an interesting fact. In order to preserve wooden constructions at Bové’s times all attic was covered with wild tobacco, half-meters deep. All possible pests and insects hate its smell. Although the tobacco was completely consumed during the war 1941-1945, all constructions even in the 70ies of 20th century were as brand new. And even then the attic had severe tobacco smell.

This tobacco fact brings in a nice trace of cultural associations. The associations primarily are connected with the history of domestic architecture. Makhorka! (‘wild tobacco’ in Russian). Today saying this old-fashioned word in Russian we cannot but mention the symbol of transformations in modern Moscow – Gorky Park which hosted the first All-Union Agricultural Exhibition in 1923. A ‘Makhorka’ pavilion built by a young architect, Konstantin Melnikov, became a first example and symbol of avant-garde forms creation for the generations to come.

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