Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visits Anatoly Sobchak Museum for Foundation of Democracy in Modern Russia
20 february 2010
After visiting the museum, the Prime Minister answered a journalist's question.
Question: How do you assess the role of Anatoly Sobchak in the establishment of democracy in Russia, and in particular, in St Petersburg? Are you satisfied with the current level of democracy in our country?
Vladimir Putin: There is no doubt that Mr Sobchak was not the only person who proclaimed democratic principles in our country. He was not the only one and he was probably not the first one. But, of course, he was a consistent democrat and one of those brilliant figures who proclaimed democratic principles in Russia and in St Petersburg. He did it in a way that was striking, straightforward, popular, fascinating and convincing. His role in the founding of new Russia was enormous.
He was a thorough and consistent democrat, and was committed to his ideals to the very end.
By the way, when we discussed him running for the second term, he realised perfectly well that the election would not be simple. He admitted that and always added that when the second term came to an end he would leave Smolny Palace immediately, as stipulated by the law, because, as he said, these principles of democracy had to be embedded in people's consciousness.
I am confident that he would have done just that if he had been elected for the second term.
As for the current situation, I think that if by democracy we mean a form of government that allows citizens to influence the situation in the country, then civil society in any country, depending on its maturity, will choose a balance between stability and development which allows the country to move forward. At the same time this balance should not shake up society and frighten it with possible cataclysms.
At the present moment, on the whole, I believe we have such a balance. Destabilisation will lead to stagnation or destruction. But at the same time, the world is constantly changing, and so are we. We should be able to respond to these changes in order to remain competitive. And these changes should not be revolutionary but evolutionary. I am confident that we are capable of achieving that now and in the future.