11-12-2009 Thursday President of Russia State of the Nation Address

President Dimitry Medvedev delivered his Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly
At the beginning of his Address, President Medvedev stressed that Russia must achieve the status of global power on a fundamentally new basis. The country's prestige and national well-being, Mr Medvedev noted, cannot be determined by past achievements. At the cost of tremendous effort Russia became one of the most influential industrial powers of the 20th century – in the 21st century, Russia once again requires all-round modernisation.

President Medvedev analysed the impact of financial crisis and economic downturn, and emphasised that social support for Russian citizens remains a governmental priority. He outlined what has been done in this respect and what will be done in the future, including increases in pensions, actions in the labour market, help for single-industry cities, the agricultural sector, business and financial sectors.

The President described the economy's focus on the real needs of Russian citizens, ensuring their safety, improving their health, and access to energy and information as the country's main development factors. This is what will determine the priorities of economic modernisation and technological development.

Dmitry Medvedev enumerated further concrete steps in the five main directions of modernisation which he has already laid out and for which a Presidential Commission [for Modernisation and Technological Development of Russia's Economy] has been established. They are the introduction of the latest medical, energy and information technologies, the development of space and telecommunications systems, and dramatically improving energy efficiency.

At the same time, President Medvedev stressed that the Government Cabinet should actively pursue development programmes in other sectors of the economy as well. Dmitry Medvedev outlined concrete steps to implement Russia's overall development strategy. They relate to optimising the budgetary sector, supporting science, the transition to innovative economic development, and improving the tax system.

He paid special attention to the development of civil society, improving the quality of education, work in cultural spheres (especially in remote areas), as well as strengthening the political system. The President underlined the need to improve democratic institutions and electoral system, as well as the quality of popular representation in government.

A separate part of the Address was devoted to fighting corruption, improving the quality of the judicial system and law enforcement.

In reference to the situation in the North Caucasus, President Medvedev stressed that the uncompromising struggle against international terrorism will continue. At the same time, he pointed out that it is necessary to combat the roots of crime in the region that are associated with its specific socio-economic situation. Programmes and projects designed to facilitate the development of the region's economy are already functioning but additional measures are required. Mr Medvedev believes that there should be a special official that holds personal responsibility for the situation in the North Caucasus.

In the section of the Address devoted to the Armed Forces immediate development goals were laid out, including new types of weapons, modern automatic command centres and information complexes, as well as personnel training and social support for servicemen.

With regards to foreign policy, President Medvedev confirmed that Russia's priority remains multipolarity, a concept which is becoming increasingly widespread throughout the world, strengthening the UN, and promoting a new European security treaty. Mr Medvedev gave instructions to develop clear criteria for evaluating the results of foreign policy activities and the programme for effective use of foreign policy elements for long-term national development. The President stressed that the effectiveness of these activities should be judged by a simple criterion: whether or not they contribute to improving living standards in Russia.

The Annual Address contains direct instructions to the Cabinet with regards to, inter alia, improving the financial system, optimising the public sector, the accelerated technological modernisation of the electoral system, and the regime governing the dispensation and procurement of medical drugs.

In conclusion, the President recalled next year's forthcoming 65th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War. We must remember and respect the past, Dmitry Medvedev said, and work hard for a decent future.

In his Address the President repeatedly referred to the feedback and suggestions he received from Russian citizens following the publication of his article Go Russia!

The full transcript of the Address to the Federal Assembly (Russian parliament) will be published.