Russia’s strength is its unity – Putin to Duma

© Grigory Sysoev
Speaking before the newly elected Lower House of parliament, President Vladimir Putin emphasized the importance of having a strong national defense and rich mineral resources, but also said that the main strength of Russia was in the unity of its people.

The President also quoted the Prime Minister of the Russian Empire, the famous reformer Pyotr Stolypin, who over a century ago said that “we all must unite and coordinate our efforts in order to maintain Russia’s supreme historical right – to be strong.”

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Putin noted that this was the right of any nation, but warned the lawmakers against taking his statement in an imperialist way, saying “We have never imposed anything on anyone and we have no plans to do so. Russia’s strength is within ourselves; it is inside our people, in our traditions and our culture, in our economy and vast territories with natural riches. Of course our strength is in our defense ability. But the most important thing is that our strength lies in the unity of our people.”

He reminded the State Duma that national strength was a key condition for maintaining sovereignty and independence.

Putin also greeted the newly elected lawmakers by saying that the new state duma was fully legitimate and this was a guarantee of its authority. At the same time, he called upon the Duma deputies to solicit more feedback from voters, civil society, and non-parliamentary political parties, as this was important to the quality of the lawmaking process.

The president announced a number of priority tasks standing before the new Duma on Wednesday, which include passing bills that would remove the obstacles facing investors and give businessmen additional protection from corrupt and dishonest law enforcement officers and bureaucrats. He also said that the MPs must continue to work on strengthening Russia’s national defense and forging constructive ties with foreign nations.

Putin thanked the previous chairman of the Lower House, Sergey Naryshkin, for his work and left the State Duma session with him. Presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the two officials headed to the headquarters of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), where Putin intended to personally introduce Naryshkin as the new director.

On September 23, Putin asked the freshly elected State Duma to elect his longtime ally Vyacheslav Volodin as its new speaker, and it accommodated his request on Wednesday with 404 representatives in support. The other candidate, MP Dmitry Novikov from the Communist Party caucus, received 40 votes.

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At the parliamentary elections that took place on September 18, the pro-Putin centrist conservative party United Russia won 343 of 450-seats, securing a constitutional majority. The Communist Party received 42 seats, the Liberal-Democratic Party took 39, and 23 went to the center-left party Fair Russia. Representatives of the Motherland and the Civil Platform parties received one place each through elections in independent constituencies, and one seat went to an independent candidate.