Medvedev meets leaders of parties ahead of annual address

President Dmitry Medvedev has discussed the preparation of his annual address and urgent economic issues with the leaders of State Duma factions.

It was the fifth meeting between the president and the leaders of parties represented in the lower house of parliament this year.  

On Wednesday, Medvedev received in his Gorki residence chairman of United Russia’s supreme council Boris Gryzlov, head of Fair Russia Sergey Mironov, chairman of the Communist Party’s central committee Gennady Zyuganov, Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky and a number of deputies form the parties.  

Medvedev wanted the leaders’ opinions on what the main issues raised in the president’s annual address should be. He invited the heads of factions to consider political and economic issues, including the modernization of the housing and utilities sector and the budget for 2011 and the next two years.

The State Duma adopted the federal budget for 2011 and the period of 2012-2013 in the final third reading on Wednesday.

All the factions have their own assessments of the budget, Medvedev said, but this document clearly has a number of priorities. The spending for education goes up 16 per cent and for healthcare, eight per cent.

Boris Gryzlov said that the federal authorities have managed to reduce utility tariffs in a number of regions.

Many expect that social issues will dominate the president’s address to be delivered later this year. 

­Medvedev sends signal to parties

Leaders of the factions also discussed Medvedev’s proposals regarding the development of the political system. In his video blog earlier on Wednesday he spoke about measures to overcome “sings of stagnation” and raise the level of political competition.

The president urges parties, first of all, United Russia, “to refresh themselves,” Gryzlov said, calling it an “absolutely normal” message. The parties should seek “new forms of work,” he added.

The Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov supported the president in his criticism of the ruling United Russia party. Its members “repeat the worst samples of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union,” the politician said after the meeting.

United Russia should hear “the voice of people,” Zyuganov noted. He also believes that the opposition should be more “vigorous” to defend their positions.

Gryzlov told reporters that representatives of seven parties that do not have deputies in the State Duma will address parliament on December 7-10. The issue was resolved, speaker Boris Gryzlov said at the meeting.

The deputies of four Duma factions and representatives of parties Patriots of Russia, the Right Cause and Yabloko will discuss labor issues and pension reform, Gryzlov said. 

­Krasnodar Governor not to be sacked

The dismissal of the Krasnodar Region’s Governor Aleksandr Tkachev is not on the Kremlin’s agenda, LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky told reporters after the meeting. He believes the governor “should be punished” because 12 people were recently killed and a large gang was detected in Kushchevskaya village.

The next meeting of the president with the factions’ leaders is scheduled for winter in Sochi, the politician said. According to him, asked if a new governor may be there by that time, “Medvedev said no.”

LDPR proposes that elections to regional legislative bodies should be based on the proportional system. This could help “stop criminals,” who might be elected in single-seat constituencies, Zhirinovsky said.

­Sergey Borisov, RT