Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with the United Russia party leadership


“The goals we are setting for ourselves are aimed at overcoming the effects of the economic downturn as soon as possible, modernising the economy and the social sphere, and improving our citizens’ life. This is the logic underpinning the draft federal budget for next year,” the prime minister said during the meeting.

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Ladies and gentlemen, we - the very same people - met here on October 1, shortly before the elections of October 10, in which six regions elected their legislatures and several dozen cities and districts elected their mayors and city halls.

United Russia did well in these elections, as we expected. It has improved its standing in almost all parts of Russia, winning 57% of the vote, 7% more than in the spring elections. The results were especially good in the Magadan and Kostroma regions and the Republic of Tuva. I'd like to thank all the voters who approved our efforts to address our country's problems and our plans for developing the country, its economy and the Russian regions.

At the same time, all local officials elected on United Russia ticket should appreciate the public trust displayed in the October 10 elections and do their utmost to continue earning this trust with hard work everyday.

We all have a lot to do. The government, together with United Russia, is drawing up strategies for practically all Russian regions and federal districts. Such programmes are almost ready for Siberia, the Volga region and the North Caucasus. We have discussed these plans in detail with our colleagues in the regions. The strategies include investment, and social and cultural projects, which are thoroughly practical and intended to spur on urban, municipal and regional development, create new jobs and improve people's life.

We are also launching a healthcare modernisation programme next year. We have discussed it many times, and the government is actively preparing for it. The programme will cover the entire Russian healthcare network. It calls for the repair and re-equipping of many medical institutions. I remind you that a total of 460 billion roubles will be allocated for this purpose.

We will also finish providing new housing to Great Patriotic War veterans. All the 28,500 veterans put on the waiting list before March 1, 2005 have received new accommodations. Another 137,500 veterans in need of better homes have been registered since that day. Roughly 50,000 of them have received new housing but there is still much to be done.

I want to remind you of another priority. On the initiative of United Russia, 50 billion roubles will be allocated within two years to repair highways in regional, territorial and republican centres. Federal and regional road maintenance funds will start work simultaneously. This is critically important work. I expect that both the federal and regional and municipal allocations (which are quite sizeable!), including profits from a one-rouble increase in excise taxes, will be spent in a targeted manner and with the greatest possible return.

The goals we are setting for ourselves are aimed at overcoming the effects of the economic downturn as soon as possible, modernising the economy and the social sphere, and improving our citizens' life. This is the logic underpinning the draft federal budget for next year. I am convinced that our comrades will proceed from the same priorities at the regional and municipal levels.

I have to mention one more issue. We gathered last time not only to talk about the upcoming October 10 elections but also to discuss possible United Russia nominees for the important and distinguished post of Moscow mayor. You know that the federal president has made his choice. The candidacy of Mr Sergei Sobyanin will be put to a vote in the Moscow City Council. I have known him for a long time. We have worked together for many years. He headed the presidential executive office and has been the government chief of staff for several years now. He is also my deputy in the government. I hope United Russia members in the City Council will vote for Mr Sobyanin's nomination.

I also asked you to focus on and monitor the reconstruction of homes destroyed by wildfires this past summer. This work is nearing completion: new houses are to be ready by November 1. Please continue to focus on this. On the whole, we have no doubt that the deadline will be met. We should pay attention to the quality of the rebuilt housing and other property.

As you know, we have experienced another tragedy that took lives - the flood in the country's south, in three settlements not far from Tuapse in the Krasnodar Territory - in particular, Jubga and Novomikhailovka. The disaster affected about five thousand people. There has been loss of life, and many people have lost property. There are bridges and highways to rebuild, and people whose homes have been irreparably damaged need help finding new accommodations. Relief work must be organised. No one will be left without help and support.

We will pay 100,000 roubles per person from the federal budget to restore damaged property plus 50,000 roubles from the regional budget, which makes a total of 150,000 roubles. Payments of 10,000 roubles per person will begin tomorrow for urgent needs. This brings the total for every person affected by the flood to approximately 160,000 roubles.

Decisions must be taken urgently as to which houses can be repaired and which are beyond repair, and where new construction is needed to provide housing for those who lost their homes. This work has started already. The governor of the Krasnodar Territory is just back from the areas affected by the flood. As he told me, he has visited every community to see the damage on site. Again, we must take stock of the situation and assess the scale of the disaster.

We will pay a million roubles to every family who lost a family member in the flood. I would like to express my deepest condolences to them all. I ask United Russia to join the relief efforts and see the situation on the ground so as to prevent abuses and ensure that everyone who needs it has our help and support.

Please, Mr Gryslov, you have the floor.

Boris Gryzlov: Thank you, Mr Putin. On October 1, we discussed single voting day prospects. It was the last occasion for us to marshal our forces. The balloting on October 10 showed that our voters support the current administration, which includes our party, United Russia, as the party of parliamentary majority.

The support was significantly higher than in March. As you said, it was 7% higher. That was mostly party ticket voting, but there were votes from single-mandate districts, too. Here I would like to point to a high level of personnel selection, including preliminary balloting to choose candidates for every district. Including the single-mandate seats, we have obtained 78% of mandates in the total returns. This is a very good result compared with 2007 figures. When the State Duma was then elected, we received something like 76% of the mandates, or 315 mandates. It means the showing in these six regions is now better that it was at the State Duma elections.

We are also pleased with the situation in regional capitals. This is the first time that we have performed at such a high level. Voting in Makhachkala, for example, returned 70% on party tickets. In Kazan, we won 68%, and in Izhevsk 69%, together with single-mandate deputies, which is a very good result. An equally high performance is reported in Nizhny Novgorod: 58% on party tickets, while in October 2005 the figure was much lower: 27%. That means we more than doubles the number of votes we received. Orenburg posted 71%, including single mandates. In Tambov, a city where other parties have won several times, we had 59%, while in previous elections we secured only 25% of the vote. Perhaps the most indicative result comes from Tomsk. Tomsk is a city of young people. Nearly half of its population is students. We secured 42% of the vote there, while the previous figure was 18%. That is a qualitative improvement.

This reflects not only to the good performance of our headquarters, our central executive committee. It also shows that our voters like what we are doing. We implement major programmes. In Tomsk, for example, we have an education project of nationwide importance, there are laws we adopted on innovative startup companies sponsored by universities and colleges. Today, Tomsk has the biggest number of such companies in the country. I had a talk with the Tomsk mayor before the elections. They have proposals on amendments to the existing legislation. Some of the points we discussed should be framed as amendments to the law to move forward.

Vladimir Putin: You must be very pleased since you supported this decision.

Boris Gryzlov: Yes, Mr Putin. Thank you.

Now let us go back to current business and above all the budget. The State Duma is to debate it on Tuesday and Wednesday. There will be two meetings: on Tuesday we will examine amendments to this year's budget and on Wednesday discuss the budget for 2011 and the 2012-2013 period in a first reading.

On Friday, we had a parliamentary party meeting and invited the finance minister to attend. Together, we examined the main points of the budget in close detail. Of course, we had also taken part in the zero reading and many of the party proposals have been accepted. We decided to support the budget in the first reading. Naturally, we also discussed ways to improve it before a second reading. For example, we agreed to set up a working group to deal with the issue of preschools. Its formal name is Support for the Preschools Development Programme in the Russian Federation. Here we can speak of a certain new trend in the federal budget. The Finance Ministry believes that building new preschool institutions and monitoring the buildings and premises that used to house preschools but were later converted to other uses will help to address the construction of preschools more efficiently. We likewise consider it important, as part of the party project, to amend legislation and toughen sanitary norms for preschools. It is necessary to separate the functions of education and care because there are preschools that only care for children, but provide no education. Today, obtaining a permit for this kind of activity is very difficult.

The second issue concerns local roads in city districts and driveways in residential developments. They need repairs as do roads in the regional capitals. It has been a long time since anyone paid attention to driveways between blocks of flats. If we could allocate funds, to be distributed among the regions through the Ministry of Regional Development, including in capital cities, we would be able to put thousands and thousands of courtyards in order. This subject is also open to discussion and was not rejected by the Finance Ministry out of hand. We hope to find common approaches to these matters by the second reading.

Vladimir Putin: Good. Now I would like to get back to the election results and to tell you the following: United Russia has clearly strengthened its positions and this speaks of the voters' positive response to our recent efforts to overcome the crisis. In general, it is an assessment of our work. But I assure you that if we take any concrete person and ask him or her whether they have questions for United Russia and the government, I am absolutely sure there will be very many questions and complaints. Lots of them.

People are becoming more sophisticated and they are beginning to objectively assess the work of the local, regional and federal government. This does not mean that we can rest on our laurels; on the contrary, it should be perceived as a call for more proactive efforts. This is the first priority for all of us. And second, the candidates who have won seats in this campaign should never forget about future elections. Our deputy corps at different levels of administration is becoming increasingly professional. The fewer empty promises, the better. If a promise is made, be it by a city, regional or federal official, it must be fulfilled. I call upon everyone to join efforts in our hard work on the challenges facing the country.


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