4 june 2008

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met with the United Russia party leadership

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said that the United Russia party must provide the link between the country’s citizens and the power structures. The Prime Minister, who is also Chairman of United Russia, was speaking at a meeting with the Party’s leaders.

Taking part in the meeting with the Prime Minister were: Chairman of the Supreme Council of the party Boris Gryzlov, First Deputy Head of the Russian President's Executive Office Vladislav Surkov, Deputy Chairman of the Government and the Head of the Government's Staff Sergei Sobyanin, Secretary of the Presidium of the Party's General Council Vyacheslav Volodin, and Chairman of the Central Executive Committee of United Russia Andrei Vorobyov.

Vladimir Putin's meeting with the United Russia leadership:

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,

As I have proposed earlier our meetings will take place on a regular basis, both with the leadership of United Russia and, I hope, with the parliamentary party. Today we are meeting as colleagues within a political structure, in the framework of United Russia. As the Government Chairman, as I have promised, I am determined to meet with the leaders of other parties in the State Duma and with all the parliamentary parties. I think it would be best to do it as early as the autumn, when we approach the adoption of the budget and other practical issues have piled up.

Today we will discuss strictly party matters. Of course, we won't be able to avoid discussing practical current issues. But first of all I believe we need to talk about the problems of party ideology, the party cadre and the replacement of the cadre. We should discuss how the party works in the regions and what it does to respond more readily to people's needs, to put them into laws and executive acts and government decisions. I would very much like the party to be a link between the country's citizens and the power structures in general and the Government in particular. In my opinion, this is the main thing. In fact this is the whole point of creating such large public social entities.

As for current affairs, I am sure you are aware that yesterday the Government introduced amendments to the Tax Code and amendments to the 2008 budget. I would like to discuss that with you today, as well as the near doubling of the minimum wage. So much for the business part of our agenda today. If you have additional proposals and ideas to discuss, I am open, we can discuss all the issues that you consider to be relevant at this juncture.

Boris Gryzlov: Thank you, Mr Putin. Of course, we have prepared for this meeting. United Russia, which you have headed up since May 7, is a party that enjoys broad popular support. Public opinion foundations say that our approval rating is growing, which means that we meet all the aspirations and hopes that our constituencies pin on our party.

As regards the party ideology, in the December 2 elections we had a programme which has come to be seen by voters as "Vladimir Putin's Course", which you outlined in your eight addresses to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.

We are aware that the strategy to the year 2020 is a theme that needs to be elaborated. This is what you have proposed in the shape of theses. We discussed it at our congress and in some new formats for our party. We created a "Strategy 2020" forum. Roundtables that worked as part of the forum were chaired not by party members, but by top professionals in their respective fields.

The party has simultaneously three discussion floors. This is a new development. The discussion floors represent the social-conservative, liberal-conservative and state-patriotic trends. There is no permanent membership and we do not insist that such clubs and discussion floors be set up in the regions. Many of those who appeared on the liberal-conservative floor, for example, are also active in the social-conservative trend. Some very interesting proposals are emerging.

The party life has become more interesting because our colleagues and party supporters have come up with many new ideas. Simultaneously we are addressing the second important issue you have just mentioned, the party cadres.

We have developed a project which has been ongoing over the course of the past year, "The country's professional team". We have met the project leaders in St Petersburg. Out of the 18,000 people wishing to take part in this contest we have selected 6,000 in six areas, about a thousand for each area. We have created a database on these candidates whom experts recognized as the best. We understand that this topic must be pursued further, that we must continue work to create such a team of professionals at the national level.

But I think we should pursue a more coherent policy to prepare reserve personnel for various positions, the near-term and longer-term reserve. All these are imperatives. We have the potential, we have somebody to choose from, at least for forming the top tens.

Now as regards our work in the regions. I think we have made an interesting decision to use the potential, including the potential of the deputies, to create United Russia public reception offices manned, among others, by the assistants of deputies elected to the power bodies of the Russian regions. Thus we have formed a network of such public reception offices, where the callers write to the Party Chairman, Vladimir Putin. So there is another channel for you to communicate with our voters - that is very important.

I can say that after you officially became the head of our party, the number of calls has increased greatly. By analyzing and studying the complaints that we receive we solve some issues at our own level, but we will shortly be ready to convey to you the wishes of our voters, on which you will have to give a real signal before we start analyzing the legislation proposed by our voters.

After the changes that have taken place everyone understands that the draft federal laws in the areas we discussed have actually been submitted to the State Duma.
I think your statement to the State Duma on May 8 to the effect that the minimum wage must be a living wage carried weight.

Vladimir Putin: I would like to respond immediately to what you have said. Of course, we campaigned in the parliamentary and then in the presidential elections supporting the current president with a certain set of theses that boil down to the development of the country in a number of key areas: modernisation of the economy, the social sphere and improving the well-being of the citizens. All our activities in the coming years must be aimed at fulfilling these promises. It is a programme for a period up to 2020, which calls for even-paced and concerted work of the whole government staff, both local and central: the State Duma, the Federation Council and the Government of the Russian Federation. All this will contribute to reassuring our people of stability and is integrated in the social sphere. That is a very important signal.

However, as Mr Gryzlov has said, we have our current affairs to attend to. We cannot postpone the good life until a distant time. We cannot, as was the case in the former Soviet times, wait for the advent of communism while suffering today. People's life must be improved now. At least we should try. Every day, every week, every year. So, all our actions, approved, of course, by parliament, must be socially oriented.

In this connection you have mentioned the increase of the minimum wage. It is a major step, an almost twofold increase. It's an important element. We will then need to give thought to adopting a sectoral system of wages. It has the final approval of the trade unions. It should gradually increase the wages, especially in the socially sensitive sectors.

But our current affairs too must be socially oriented. I definitely expect that the amendments to this year's budget, to the Tax Code introduced by the Government will be approved by the State Duma and the United Russia party at the State Duma. You know what it is all about. It is about providing World War II disabled veterans with transport or paying compensation. Additional money is allocated to provide medicines for people entitled to benefits at the federal level. We are raising all the social allowances, including child allowances, "mother's capital" and so on.
So, of course, we have the long-term perspectives until 2020 and beyond, and that sends a very important signal to our people, the economy and the positioning of our country. But in our day-to-day life too we should not forget that every step must match the current interests of our citizens.