Putin names new priorities in State of the Nation address

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December 1, 2016 – Fort Russ – 

Ruslan Ostashko, LiveJournal – translated by J. Arnoldski –

Any address by Vladimir Putin is an important event in the life of the country, and today’s address is no exception. Every year, I collect the rumors gathering around the speech and every time I am surprised by the extent to which our political scene so poorly knows our president. 

This time, rumors have gone around about some kind of incredibly unusual, almost shocking address. They have not been justified. Putin once again showed himself to be calm, wise, and a very rational leader who clearly pushes his line for the stabile modernization of the country. I was very pleased to see the clear position of the president on the need to prevent any limitations on freedom of thought. This is an important thesis and it is very good that it was publicly articulated by the president personally. 

Lately, a few too many politicians and activists have appeared who are taking on the role of being public censors or are even trying to privatize patriotism, basically claiming that they determine who can be a patriot. 

The president’s words also relate to those who really want to proscribe some sort of state ideology on the legislative level and appoint themselves to be the custodians and managers of this official ideology with good salaries and significant privileges. We’ve already been through this, and it ended very badly for both the Russian Empire and the USSR.  Putin is also worthy of respect for refusing to yield to loud-mouthed ideologues and not letting the country, for the third time, step on the same rake. 

We are all different, and this is our strength. And Putin’s strength lies in that he can attract people of the most different persuasions to work for the benefit of the country, be they left, right, white, red, social democrats, or conservatives. In a word, all of those who cherish Russia. This is very important and very correct. We need to concentrate on what unites us, not on things over which we are ready to fight one another.

Putin and Russia as a whole are often accused of searching for an external enemy who is supposedly necessary for the stability of the government. This is nonsense. If we look at the centuries-old history of our homeland, then it can easily be seen that the enemies come to us themselves, and not only do they come, but they systematically try to embed themselves in the space of our vital interests. In one way or another, they get a whooping and then spend ages whining in the information field about how Russia is evil and looking for enemies to harm. 

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Putin has once again offered the leadership of the United States to walk down the path of cooperation, not conflict, together. This once again proves that we don’t need enemies. It would be very good for us if they simply left us and our sphere of strategic interests in peace. 

The main topic of the president’s speech was the political and economic situation in the country. This setting of priorities matches the expectations of society in which there is a demand for economic growth. Putin criticized everyone: the banks that don’t want to invest in the real economy; the officials who are stifling business with check-ups and bureaucratic obstacles; and the security forces who are making a nightmare for business, engaging in raids, and who will be locked up for this. The president also expressed his rejection of attempts to turn the fight against corruption into a PR show.

On another note, the president noted positive tendencies in such sectors as agriculture, the defense sector (which has been tasked with increasing civilian production), and, of course, the Russian IT sector. As an internet person, it was very pleasant to hear the president’s words on the need to support the development of information technology and his direct order to keep the tax benefits for IT companies at least until 2023. 

Political analysts have a tradition. After every address, they say who won from the camera and image perspective. Today’s address can be considered a success for Herman Klimenko, the president’s internet advisor, and the speaker of the State Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin. The president praised the new Duma for increasing its “role as a representative body,” noting that “overall, the authority of the legislature has been strengthened.” This means that the president positively assesses the changes that have occurred in the work of the State Duma and in its public perception.

Herman Klimenko and his colleagues from the Institute for Internet Development, including myself, can also be congratulated on the fact that Putin identified the development of the internet industry as a priority to become the motor of economic development. Now the Russian IT community needs to meet these high expectations and confidence, including in terms of improving informatization of services for citizens such as medicine, utilities, and finance. I am sure that the Russian IT community, given the proper government support, will cope with this task.

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As Vyacheslav Volodin correctly noted in his interview following the president’s speech, this address set goals not for a year, but outlined areas of work for many years. There will of course be difficulties and hardships but, looking at the long path that the country has traversed over the last 15 years, I believe that we will succeed in everything.

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