Russian deputies to discuss "Russia's revival"

Deputies of Russia’s Lower House of Parliament are to discuss the Russian President’s State of the Nation Address to the Federal Assembly. Thursday's speech has already been described as a programme for the country’s revival.

The state's participation in major national projects, along with the development of small and medium business, are also expected to be debated.

The Speaker of Russia’s State Duma and the leader of the “United Russia” party, Boris Gryzlov, said the party would shortly begin fulfilling the tasks set out in the Address to the Nation.

Each year, the Russian President delivers the State of the Nation Address. Boris Yeltsin set the tradition 14 years ago. This year the address was postponed due to his death.

As a tribute to Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin is suggesting the Presidential Library be named after Russia's first President.

Next year, a new President will deliver the annual speech. But for now, Putin's address, which lasted an hour and brought 46 rounds of applause from Russia's lawmakers, contained proposals that will likely affect Russia's political and economic development for years ahead.

Setting the tone of the speech, President Putin emphasised the importance of national unity. “We are in the beginning of a long road of the revival of our country, the more united our country will be, the sooner and more confidently we will be able to cover this road,” President Putin said. He continued: “The spiritual unity of the people and the moral values uniting us are as important as economic and political stability.”

“I will tell you straight. Not everybody wants our country to develop in a stable and consistent manner. There are those who, skilfully using pseudo-democratic rhetoric, would like to return to the recent past – some to loot the country's national riches, to rob the people and the state, others to strip us of economic and political independence. There is a growth in the flow of money from abroad for direct interference in our internal affairs,” President Putin stated.

Recently Russia has seen an escalation in political activism. Pro-government and opposition rallies have dominated street politics.

Mr Putin has called for a tougher stance on extremism. “Some descend to the dirtiest technologies in an attempt to fuel interethnic and inter-religious discord in our multi-ethnic and democratic country. In this context, I request that you step up the passage of amendments toughening liability for extremism,” Russia’s President stated.

The majority of his speech was dedicated to the lives of Russians, including their social problems, one of the most urgent of which is housing. Current statistics show the sector is in crisis, millions of houses built in the Soviet era are in desperate need of repair, and some unfit for human habitation are ready for demolition .

The International part was saved for later. Relations within the CIS remain the priority. “Russia is determined to play an active role in economic integration in the CIS space and in the entire Eurasian space. We need to strengthen integration processes in the Eurasec and the Shanghai Co-operation Organization. This is the case when the economy is a synonym of security,” Vladimir Putin noted.

The address is an analysis of the past but also a look into the future. This year it was particularly awaited, as this address was considered a guide for the next Russian leader.

But for those who hoped for an endorsement, their expectations were dashed.

Vladimir Putin also says that it is too early for a eulogy – he is still holding the reins of power, and even though he has got less than a year to serve, he is not going to be a ‘lame duck’ President.

“You and I must make every effort till the last minute. We must use our authority given by the Constitution and effectively use the time that was given by destiny, so we can serve Russia,” President Putin concluded.