13 august 2012

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev conducts a videoconference with members of the national public organisation United Russia’s Young Guard and representatives of the Gvardeisk 2012 Federal Educational Camp



Dmitry Medvedev: Hello Lipetsk! Hello Gvardeisk 2012! Hello to everyone who is there with you now! We also have a group with us here.

Moderator: Good afternoon, Mr Medvedev. We are here at the Gvardeisk 2012 camp – there are already more than a thousand young people here. Our camp is in Lipetsk and we have Lipetsk Region Governor Oleg Korolyov with us now. Our forum has opened today and our guys have already…

Dmitry Medvedev: It is very easy to recognise Mr Korolyov. It's immediately clear, even if you don’t know who the head of the regional administration is.

Moderator: And we were not trying to hide him. We want people to know who has made our forum possible.

Dmitry Medvedev: Okay.

Moderator: Mr Medvedev, today is the first day of our work and the guys have already started studying in different areas – “Leadership,” “Cooperation with the media,” “Working online” and “Implementing projects,” to name a few. Mr Medvedev, we are happy to welcome you.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you, thank you very much. I’d like to ask you a question first, if I may. They say you had a storm there? But you coped with it, is that right?

Moderator: We are in a marquee now, although we planned to speak with you in the street. Yes, we had rain but the guys coped with it. You can see from our mood that everything is all right.

Dmitry Medvedev: Yes, I see.

Moderator: We are very happy to have an opportunity…

Dmitry Medvedev: I’d just like to give the floor to our colleagues for a few words.

Artyom Turov (the United Russia Party's coordinator for youth policy and co-chairman of the coordinating council of its national public organisation, the Young Guard): Mr Medvedev, first of all, I’d like to thank you for this invitation. We are grateful for having this opportunity to meet here and talk about the work of United Russia’s youth wing: the Young Guard. Apart from the Lipetsk venue, which has become an annual tradition for us, we conduct about 35 educational political forums in summer (for us this is work rather than vacation) that are attended by a total of 10,000 people. Of course, the Lipetsk venue is the most important one because here we sum up the results of our work. Today, about 1,100 people have gathered there to study the subjects that Maxim mentioned for one week.

Dmitry Medvedev: I see. I’m very pleased to have this opportunity to talk, because you invited me to come but I was unable to do so this time due to some problems that arose. The weather is not very good, either. I’ll come next time, maybe it’ll be better. Let’s use this opportunity to talk about life and your time at the forum, current events and problems in political life.

I know the Young Guard will soon have a convention that represents a major part of the work. This will be your fifth convention, is that right? Yes, the fifth. Well, considering the general course towards renovation that we have now decided to pursue in United Russia, I’d like to learn what you are going to do at your convention, but this is not my only interest. Let’s talk about the subjects that you consider to be important – routine things, and the economy. To sum up, I’m at your service. Let’s talk for a bit.

Moderator: Okay, then we’ll use this opportunity and ask you the first question right away.

Dmitry Medvedev: Go right ahead.

Pavel Sychyov: Good afternoon, Mr Medvedev. My name is Pavel Sychyov, the federal coordinator of our project “Agents.” Mr Medvedev, there is a long-standing problem – alcoholism – that is making itself felt in many regions. Still worse, it affects teenagers. It appears that now any underage person can buy alcohol. If they fail to obtain it at a supermarket, they will buy it at a kiosk or a bus station near their home. They can easily buy not only beer but also vodka.

Since 2006 our organisation has been conducting raids to identify those who sell alcohol to minors. But when we call the police to register this violation, it is sometimes very difficult to call these salespersons to task judicially. Red tape is also a hurdle. I’m not even talking about measures against retailers where underage teens buy this alcohol.

At its autumn session, the State Duma will review amendments to toughen punishment for the sale of alcohol to minors. But I have a question. Is it logical… I’d like to know what you think. Suppose the punishment becomes tougher. A salesperson will have to pay a bigger fine for selling alcohol to an underage teenager, but the retailer will not be held responsible in any way. He’s got his profits, and if his salesperson is fined, he’ll hire another one and so on. We think retailers must also be liable and should control this process. They must control their salespeople. Thank you!

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you! Pavel, you’ve touched upon a very sad and difficult problem for our country, but this doesn’t mean we should turn away from it. Some time ago this subject was not exactly popular. Everyone recalled the period when Mikhail Gorbachev launched his campaign against drinking, and everyone said it had done no good at all and there is no sense to combat drinking because people in this country have always drunk, they drink, and they will continue to drink no matter what – this is our favourite custom. But this is not the case at all.

The campaign launched in 1986 produced enormous losses, this is true. That said, it saved millions of lives, and this is also true.

We shouldn’t follow the old tracks, because the campaign did not prove to be very effective. But it is absolutely clear to me that we must take all the necessary legal and other measures to combat drinking.

You mentioned children... I looked at the statistics the other day and shared what I saw with my colleagues at a government meeting. Fifty percent of our children (this might come as a shock) aged 11 to 17 regularly consume alcohol. This doesn't mean that they are alcoholics or that they all drink vodka. It could be beer or something else. But this is happening during their formative years when their brains are developing and they are growing... It is a real problem. Look at how tough they are abroad in protecting the interests of minors in this area. A bar, a restaurant or an ordinary shop can be heavily fined if they are caught selling alcohol to minors. My point is that it is a matter of discipline and culture. I initiated this bill and it has been submitted to the State Duma. I hope that it will be applied correctly and extensively. What I am saying is that we have many strict regulations that do not work. So, if we apply this law to retailers and other people involved in sales, they will know what is expected of them...  I am older than most of those present here, perhaps only Mr Galkin (Alexander Galkin,  head of the regional headquarters of the Russian public organisation Young Guard of United Russia of the Chelyabinsk Region), remembers that time as I remember it. So, for any young person to be able to buy such things in Soviet times, they would have been required to produce their passport. Young people couldn’t buy alcohol without a passport because sales assistants were too afraid of the consequences.

Now, in terms of who should be covered by this bill. I hope that deputies will work on this as well. I believe it should cover as broad a range of people as possible. This includes sales assistants because these kinds of sales are often executed at a premium with the difference going into the salesperson’s pocket. Without question, they must be made responsible. I also agree that owners of properly licensed retail outlets – I am not even talking about unlicensed operations, because they are simply illegal and should be shut down right away– should also bear responsibility for illegal sales. However, there is a legal conflict here, because owners will invariably say that they insist that their staff do not sell alcohol to minors, but they do it anyway. So this is a judicial matter of proving or disproving guilt. In any case, I believe that we could establish dual liability, or, better yet, different liabilities. Sales assistants should face criminal charges for selling alcohol to minors, whereas owners, if proving their involvement in such sales is difficult, should bear administrative responsibility and have their license to sell alcohol revoked. That's the main thing.

To wrap up my answer to this question, I would like to say that a lot depends on us. It is excellent that you, Pavel, and your comrades are doing this work, because if you don't have the punishment to back it up, no law will ever get enforced.

Moderator: Thank you, Mr Medvedev. Let us proceed to the next question, from a volunteer firefighter.

Maxim Borovik: Hello, Mr Medvedev. I am Maxim Borovik, I am a participant of the Young Guard of United Russia project and a rescue worker.

The idea for the project originated back in 2010, when together with our mates we, the members of the Young Guard movement, set up a voluntary crew to help professional firefighters to extinguish forest peat fires. Today, over 30 Russian regions are involved in the project, establishing voluntary firefighting crews and providing safety on the water and dealing with emergency situations. A good example of our activities was the disaster in the town of Krymsk, where the Young Guard activists began providing help to people within the first few hours. Later on, around 400 more members arrived in the town from the Krasnodar Territory and the neighbouring regions to assist professional rescuers in dealing with the aftermath of the disaster.

Our proposal is to set up a volunteer training centre (first in the federal districts) at the Emergencies Ministry’s educational institutions to provide those willing to help and those who want to become rescuers and firefighters with the opportunity of gaining experience and knowledge from professionals. Do you support this proposal?

Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Borovik, of course I support your proposal. And my opinion is not based on ideological reasons but on the fundamental logic of life. All around the world, a vast number of volunteers are involved in battling wildfires. No matter how strong the Emergencies Ministry is and how professional its units are, our country has the biggest land mass in the world, and unless there is a common response to common disasters there is no way we will be able to overcome them. Remember 2010, when wildfires were raging across the entire country. It was a massive disaster which, I hope, taught us a lesson: we managed to purchase additional equipment, improve professional skills, and, most importantly, promote the law on volunteer fire brigades, which I was involved in at the time. This is very important.

By the way, when this all happened, I spoke with my colleagues, with the German Chancellor, where these types of volunteer units work very efficiently and are involved in extinguishing a significant proportion of wildfires. So I support your idea.

A while ago, I visited Tomsk, which, as you know, is facing a very difficult situation this year, with the taiga burning and the city airport closed for a long time. A very difficult situation: drought and fires. During my meeting with the servicemen there, they lined up. They all were there together – professional firefighters, Emergencies Ministry servicemen and volunteers, and they even wore the same uniform. They said they were battling the fires together and this was their common task. They even went on guard together and shared the same quarters. And this is how it should be – and I support the idea of a centre, we have such centres in the country, and the Emergencies Ministry is ready to expand them and involve volunteer fire brigades. I will tell the minister about this once again. 

Maxim Borovik: Thank you very much.

Moderator: Our colleagues have questions as well, so let us listen to them.

Remark: Thank you, Maxim.

Dmitry Medvedev: This is pretty good.

Yekaterina Stenyakina (federal coordinator of United Russia’s Young Guard public organisation in the Southern Federal District): Good afternoon, Mr Medvedev. My name is Yekaterina Stenyakina and I am a Young Guard coordinator for the Southern Federal District and a town Duma deputy in Shakhty. I am also a motorist and drive my own car, so my question is about…

Dmitry Medvedev: Good on you!

Yekaterina Stenyakina: Thank you. My question relates perhaps to all motorists. Our president has recently signed a law amending car inspection rules and abolishing car inspection cards.  But we still have one outdated document, called ‘car authorisation’. In many countries the authorities no longer interfere with the relationship between the driver and the car owner because if a person has vehicle registration documents and blanket motor-insurance documents and the car is not reported stolen, then there is no need for the authorisation. Mr Medvedev, let us again take up the issue of amending the legislation and abolishing this. We would very much like to see it got rid of.

Dmitry Medvedev: Ms Stenyakina, you have raised this matter yourself. Do you think I will come forward and say: ‘Let us not discuss this question? Please proceed to the next one?”

We are not, of course, going to abolish authorisations – the authorisations are a very useful thing. But you are speaking only of authorisations issued by vehicle owners to ones who drive their cars by proxy. I agree with you that more often than not this is an absolutely formal document. It is in fact out of place now: once it was meant to prove that the authorised driver uses the car by right, that it has not been stolen from the legitimate owner. You are right to say that if the car is reported stolen, no authorisation will help, and if such an authorisation is available, but no other documents are in evidence, it solves nothing. In this sense, of course, an authorisation letter is a sort of symbol just to show that there is a certain connection between the car driver and the car owner. But the problem is not so simple as it appears.

I believe that the situation (there is such a legal term) can generally give the authority to drive a car because this authority can be based on an authorisation paper, on the law and, as is said in the Civil Code, be apparent from the situation at hand.

You never, for example, demand to see a shop’s documents from a shop assistant. You know that he or she is authorised to sell goods and do not say, show me your credentials, because otherwise I won’t buy from you. This is the same thing.

If there is a vehicle registration card and a vehicle registration paper and, let us assume, there is also an insurance policy that can be shown, then it is clear it is no coincidence that the person concerned holds them. But there is a general power of authority. There is an authority that in fact masks a sell and buy deal. It means, therefore, it would be wrong to ban such powers of authority legally, I think, because their purposes may differ. A person has gone abroad to work and says you can drive my car for six months and then sell it, I no longer need it. It is wrong to ban such deals, but perhaps the need to show an authorisation legitimating a person to drive a transport vehicle could be dispensed with. Let us discuss this because there could be arguments both for and against. Let us air the issue with the traffic police and with the motoring community at large. And I am sure the overall majority will back you. I agree that a letter of authority as a deal formalising the relationship between driver and owner is outdated in this context unless a sale is meant. But selling a car is a different matter, which, incidentally, also needs looking into and sorting out. But I will not go into this now, if that’s okay?

Yekaterina Stenyakina: Thank you, Mr Medvedev. I have one more question left, a small one, it is a follow-up to the first.

Dmitry Medvedev: Go ahead, please.

Yekaterina Stenyakina: I am a town Duma deputy.

Dmitry Medvedev: You work in Shakhty, don’t you?

Yekaterina Stenyakina: Yes, in Shakhty. And we are also in charge of road safety. Our local budget is expected to finance the markings, road signs and traffic lights, their provision and installation. The traffic police issues a constant stream of directives for us to follow: install this and install that. But funds that could meet our expenses – the traffic fines – unfortunately go into the federal and regional budgets. We would like to suggest an initiative that traffic penalties be rerouted into the local budgets. It will then be us that will charge them because we have got to cover our costs. We have actually drawn up such an initiative. May I hand it to you? (Passes over the papers.)

Dmitry Medvedev: Fines are sure to be a huge amount now. Thank you very much.

Yekaterina Stenyakina: It is important to drive properly.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you, Yekaterina. Of course I will have a look over this matter, if that’s okay, regarding contributing the fines to local budgets. Perhaps, there is some point in at least sharing this revenue with others. Okay. Shall we go back to Lipetsk or continue our meeting here?

Comment: There is one more question from one participant.

Dmitry Medvedev: Let’s allow our colleagues to ask it. They are standing up, while we are sitting down – that is a bit unfair.

Moderator: Thank you, Mr Medvedev, we support this initiative.

Dmitry Medvedev: Perhaps I will stand up, too. I will feel more comfortable that way.

Moderator: Mr Medvedev, the next question is on a subject close to you and one which you have greatly promoted in this country. It is about the Internet. The question is as follows.

Gennady Guryanov: Good afternoon, Mr Medvedev. My name is Gennady Guryanov. I am an online project coordinator for the national organisation United Russia's Young Guard.

Mr Medvedev, I would like to call your attention to the following problem: the traditional media, television, radio, newspapers and other periodicals, are receiving major government funding, though the internet is doing no less for public information – you surely know this as an active social networker who looks up information every day.

Regrettably, some organisations, including anti-Russian ones, are consistently indoctrinating users by misrepresenting particular events in Russia and the world. The Young Guard is implementing several projects to balance out their coverage or even to tip the balance, but our funds are much smaller than the websites that enjoy permanent support from anti-Russian organisations and can therefore afford ever new online projects.

Mr Medvedev, do you think it is time to establish government support of internet resources promoting our state interests – possibly through grants – to provide the true information that we currently need? I'm very interested in your opinion.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you, Gennady. I will certainly tell you what I think of this. I don’t think the problem is as simple as you present it, because there are many different positions. We – United Russia and its Young Guard – have one stance, Communists have another and someone else still another, but we are in office now and naturally we use our power to pursue our policy.

I mean to say that the problem does not lie in some people spending foreign grants on such activities, which they certainly do. You know the opportunities that the internet affords. As you well know, one does not need lots of money to create unbridled propaganda for specific values and methods. It’s no secret that some people don’t stop at outright provocation. That is true. It doesn’t mean that these things can make us lose heart and do nothing, but they do happen.

So I think the problem is much more complicated, and everyone who shares our values must simply take a certain position. I keep abreast with social networks and I think you do as well. Sometimes we come across opinions there that make us angry just because they are contrary to our own.

I think that such situations merely demand a firm defence of one’s convictions. This rarely takes money, but it does demand courage, because when you clash with a particular trend… I don’t want to get into specifics – you know what I am hinting at. So you come up against a social trend that has emerged. I don’t want to say that it’s just or unjust, whether it’s the truth or a pack of lies. At any rate, there is a public opinion on a certain issue, which harshly criticises the available political system. Pointed publications follow one another, saying there are scoundrels on the top, and whatever they do is wrong.

This is what I mean. First, everyone has the right to criticise the authorities and write whatever he or she likes within the legal limits. On the other hand, you need courage to speak up in this torrent of negative opinions, because when you come out with an opinion that differs from the majority, you become the victim of torrential abuse.

This has to do with our public culture. To be honest, the tone of arguments in the Russian social networks and the internet in general is far ruder than in other countries, where blatant insults are rare, though opinions often clash. I think it’s very important for us to be brave as we speak out on the topical issues of Russian life, even when we know that our words will bring about a negative response. This is important.

As for supporting trends and resources, I think we should stay within the limits of our available opportunities, and support of public organisations and NGOs is no exception.

We have very efficient agencies whose responsibilities include the media. I'll remind you that we have agreed to increase their funding fourfold to 3 billion roubles. I think this is serious money, which will come in handy where NGOs are concerned, including those engaged with the internet and ICT. However, the decision should be taken accounting for the established rules. That’s what I wanted to say.

Maxim Borovik: Thank you, Mr Medvedev. I know that my colleagues in the Young Guard who are next to you, also have questions to ask, and I would like them to have a chance.

Moderator: Thank you, Maxim. Nikolai, go ahead please.

Nikolai Surkov (federal coordinator of the national organisation United Russia's Young Guard for the Siberian Federal District): Good afternoon, Mr Medvedev.

Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon, once again.

Nikolai Surkov: My name is Nikolai Surkov. I am a deputy of the Novosibirsk regional legislature.

Dmitry Medvedev: We've just seen each other.

Nikolai Surkov: Quite recently, at any rate. Thank you very much for your invitation. Mr Medvedev, I would like to bring up the topic we discussed when you met with United Russia activists in Novosibirsk – I'm referring to the appearance of unknown people in the ruling bodies and in community activism. These people sometimes have innovative ideas on social and state problems.

I would like to suggest that we use to greater effect United Russia’s project “Personnel Reserve: Professionals’ National Team.” In this regard, I'd also like to propose more practical steps.

During the Krasnoyarsk Economic Forum of 2008 you presented the Four I’s programme of national economic development – Institutions, Infrastructure, Innovation and Investment. I propose establishing a vertically integrated system in the State Duma and the regional legislatures, which will address problems connected with the development of these four I’s, particularly investment and innovation. That’s a great challenge. In principle, I think, we might use the United Russia party reserve to set up this system. Thank you.

Dmitry Medvedev: But will this help?

Nikolai Surkov: I think it will.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you very much. I would like also to say a few words on this theme if I may.

While in Novosibirsk, I really said that a change was necessary in our party and the Young Guard (it’s a guard, after all, however young it might be). They need new blood, and I think such a change is now more necessary than ever.

A change is truly underway in the party. As you know, elections are taking place in grassroots organisations. All 85,000 primary party organisations will elect their heads. I suppose the Young Guard should also think about this. Not that I am ordering it. It is entirely up to you to decide who will work for the bright future, and how. What really matters is proper personnel selection and new blood, as just said, and rightly.

We should be bolder with promotions. I think the experience that United Russia has gained lately is rather good.

A few days ago I met in this room with candidates for the Central Executive Committee leadership. There were five of them, all nice boys, and everyone had opinions and a programme all his own. One of them won – Dmitry Travkin. I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate him once again, though I rang him then and wished him success. I think real competition was the best thing about it – the boys did not fall to fighting, of course: they presented their positions to choose the most interesting project and programme. As I see it, we should promote such competition in United Russia and the Young Guard.

As for vertical integration, I am wary of this term. When I hear the words “a vertically integrated structure” I recall our mammoth monopolies – fabulously rich and cumbersome, which all too often do not fulfil their duties. If we set up something different, possibly a decision-making system reaching from top to bottom, it might be a good idea. But then, we should proceed from a practical task and not formulate it as a general idea. Let’s think it over. Okay? Thank you.

Moderator: You have the floor, Maxim.

Maxim Borovik: Mr Medvedev, we will go to the polls in autumn, so with regard to this, another question.

Dmitry Medvedev: Go ahead.

Maya Shalunova: Good afternoon. My name is Maya Shalunova. I am a Young Guard member from Vladivostok. Mr Medvedev, elections and young people’s involvement in them are among the educational themes at our camp.

United Russia’s Young Guard was active in the State Duma and presidential elections while the so-called opposition was throwing mud at these elections and, as recorded, thwarted them in many respects by circulating fake Twitter clips, citing unverified facts, and disseminating other misleading information.

Mr Medvedev, do you think it is necessary to bring to court such instances of misinformation in compliance with the new law On Defamation, and punish the culprits? Thank you.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you, Maya. Things really were as you said. All kinds of technologies are used during elections. Possibly, we owe today’s challenge to the following: in the past, it took a long time and access to media outlets – television or the press – to circulate misinformation, irrespective of whether it legally qualified it as slander, defamation or denigration of honour and dignity. Now, you need only get to your computer or dial a phone number for your lie to reach millions of people. The entire world is aware of this problem.

We should think, all of us, how to respond to such information, because it might be quite harmless or not very harmful, but it might also be destructive. It might be a blatant provocation. Here I don’t mean politics, but mere mentions of an emergency that has never happened. It’s a downright crime to circulate rumours about, say, a radioactive leak or any other accident to send the public into panic.

We must be sure to combat such things, and the whole question is how to do so. Not every action qualifies as a crime. That’s up to the court of law. However, there are instances in which the gravity of the misdemeanour, according to the court verdict, implies criminal liability.

As for proper slander, our law and judicial practice changed in this respect, as you know. Slander qualified as a criminal offence several years ago. The clause was extremely rarely applied, though relevant criminal proceedings were occasionally launched. The article on slander was eventually stricken out of the Criminal Code, but has been reinstituted quite recently.

I think its restoration in a new wording is a fine juridical construction testifying, in a sense, to the state’s viewpoint: when someone circulates information to the detriment of another person’s reputation, knowing the information to be false, the culprit must be aware that he may be held criminally liable when his lie brings grave practical consequences.

I find the new punishment for slander far superior to the previous one because, as we all know, prison does not reform every convict, and the old version involved imprisonment, which the new law does not demand. I think that’s correct. It stipulates large fines or community service. I think that’s tough enough – suffice it to say that the culprit has an official criminal record, which implies major limitations, while there is none with administrative liability for misinformation.

I hope the new legislation on defamation will promote justice and improve the situation. However, we all realise, I am sure, that a major part of the problems you mentioned pertain not to crime but to general culture, including political culture, in this country.

Maya Shalunova: Thank you.

Moderator: Mr Medvedev, we will work in this camp for another five days, and it's very nice that we are able to communicate with you in this high-tech way. You have offered us good wishes. We were also glad to learn that you know about the upcoming Young Guard congress. If you can, please say another few words to the Young Guard members who have gathered here.

Dmitry Medvedev: Okay. But I’d like to ask you some questions instead. And would you like to ask more questions yourself? I can answer one or two more.

Sergei Stepanov (head of Volgograd regional headquarters, United Russia’s  Young Guard ): We do. 

Dmitry Medvedev: Please go ahead.

Sergei Stepanov: Good afternoon,  Mr Medvedev! Sergei Stepanov, Volgograd. I’m a member of the Volgograd Region election commission with full voting status. At the December 4 elections to the State Duma, almost 96,000 polling stations were equipped with video cameras.

I visited several polling stations and witnessed the genuine interest of our citizens in the elections. I believe that we need to continue and build on this experience. We have regional and municipal election campaigns also, all the more so that it is in the interest of our party as this has to do with the transparency and openness in the election process.

But I also want to ask some questions. For example, during the municipal election campaign everyone is wondering where to get the money for video cameras? It would seem logical to include this expense in the budget, but from what I understand, currently these expenses are not included in municipal budgets, and funding the cameras from the budget would mean misusing budgetary funds. I think we need to support this process legislatively. Today these cameras are simply gathering dust, but we need to use them.

Dmitry Medvedev: How do you suggest using them?

Sergei Stepanov: I suggest using them at ongoing municipal and regional elections to ensure that every citizen of our country can follow the voting process live.

Dmitry Medvedev: I see. Well, given the great interest in the elections and the fact that there are various technical means to monitor what’s happening (during the voting process), and since we already have a positive experience with the cameras, we could use them at other elections as well.

This needs to be discussed with the Central Election Commission, and I’m willing to do that. I think the party could also formulate its position on this, especially considering that budgetary issues are involved. I don’t think that cameras resolve all the issues, as, probably …you, too, because there are thousands of ways to either ignore the video materials or even damage the cameras. But in general cameras have provided a certain degree of confidence in the election process. And I believe this is a very positive thing.

I have recently discussed the issue with our Ukrainian colleagues. They asked me whether the cameras proved to be useful. I told them that overall the cameras proved to be quite helpful, and so they also decided to use video cameras during the Verkhovna Rada elections. Therefore, I believe this was a positive experience and we can use it.

Sergei Stepanov: Thank you!

Anton Demidov: I would like to ask a question, Mr Medvedev.

Dmitry Medvedev: Well, you can ask another question, if you want. Go ahead.

Moderator: We have representatives not only from the Young Guard, but also from other youth organisations in our camp. Anton Demidov, the leader of Young Russia has the floor.

Dmitry Medvedev: Please.

Anton Demidov: Hello, Mr Medvedev.

Dmitry Medvedev: Hi.

Anton Demidov: We have the following question. Our organisation is fighting drug trafficking and the availability of legal drugs, the so-called spice. Currently, the government resolutions On New Narcotic Drugs are issued two to three times a year. However, in between these resolutions drug producers just change the drug formula slightly and then market them. These drugs are sold in pedestrian underpasses and around various stores. They are often disguised as bath powders, fish food, etc. They use all kinds of tricks to sell these drugs.

What can we do? When we test purchase a drug and notify the police about the dealer, they can only charge him with trade without a cash register. Essentially, we can only scare him a little by calling the police, and nothing more than that. Maybe we should consider introducing a definition like "intoxicating substance" which could be added to the list of narcotics and banned by Rospotrebnadzor (Federal Service for Consumer Rights Protection).

Also, when we send the test purchase to the Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN), it takes them about 30 or 40 days to test for drug content. We eventually get a letter saying whether drugs were found in the sample, but only after 30 or 40 days. But after that these drugs are replaced with the new ones.

I think this is a very serious problem, because we see how these drugs are sold at night and how lots of people are buying them and getting addicted at a very young age. We need to tackle this issue somehow and hopefully you can help us with it. Thank you.

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you. We must all help those who are getting addicted to drugs. And this is not just a matter of helping certain individuals, but helping the country as a whole. This problem really exists, and, unfortunately, the law is very often manipulated just as you described.

The government periodically updates the list of drugs and narcotic substances, but during the period when some synthetic drugs or narcotic substances are not included on the list, they can be sold. How can we deal with this problem?

To be honest with you, I need to think about this. In principle, I agree with you that we could try using more general definitions, which would cover similar, but not identical drugs and narcotic substances. But in that case we must create a legal model that would somehow protect people from various abuses, which is also possible.

The people you are talking about, those who sell drugs in various places, these are people who have only one goal - to make money by selling narcotics. But there are different situations. Therefore, I think we should consider the possibility of creating a more flexible model to bring people to justice, but in such a way that would exclude the prosecution of innocent people.

I would like to propose that if you have any suggestions, since you have extensive experience fighting this evil and we are very grateful to you for that, if you can suggest any wording, any amendments to the current legislation in this area, please send them to me. I will consider them and instruct the Government to work on them.

I think this is it for now.

Moderator: Mr Medvedev, thank you very much for this conversation. Let’s thank Mr Mdvedev everyone!

Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you very much. First of all, of course, I hope that you will have a good and memorable time and enjoy your remaining days here. I also hope that you will have an opportunity to discuss a host of other issues that we could not get to today, as a great deal depends on your personal position. You certainly know this, being the active people that you are.

And it is great that you have gathered here to discuss your proposals for the convention and, in general, for our future work. I also want to wish you a creative atmosphere and hope that the stormy weather will not stand in your way in the remaining days here. I hope you will have nice weather here.

Moderator: Thank you, Mr Medvedev. We can handle it.

Dmitry Medvedev: Bye everyone, best of luck to you.