Medvedev: Freedom is better than non-freedom

Addressing the State Council, Dmitry Medvedev has reiterated his political credo: more freedom for everyone. It is ‘humiliating’ to consider Russia a nation not capable of free life, he stressed.

“As incumbent president I must state my position regarding the ideology of Russia’s development. I consider the development of civil and economic freedoms the key task. More freedom for everyone – that was and still is my goal,” Medvedev stressed. “Everyone needs freedom – it’s an axiom. While contrasting freedom and order, freedom and welfare, freedom and justice are totally wrong.”

Medvedev held an enlarged session of the State Council in the Kremlin, the final one before he leaves the presidential chair in May, after Vladimir Putin’s inauguration.

In his speech the outgoing president focused on key priorities for future development, as well as wrapping up what has been achieved during his term since 2008.

He underlined that the preparation of “concrete plans” for the work of a future government is a task for “new power structures.” These plans will be presented to the lower House, the State Duma, as part of the procedure of a new Prime Minister’s appointment.

Goals set

Dmitry Medvedev suggested seven criteria for assessing the efficiency of government, with life expectancy growth topping the list. By 2018, it should reach 75 years, he said.

“If people live longer, it means there are achievement in all fields,” Medvedev pointed out.

In five years, the number of families whose incomes are lower than the living-wage should be lower than 10 per cent of the entire population,

Within the same period of time, Russia should rise from current “very unattractive” 120th place in the International Doing Business rankings to at least 40th and be among the top twenty countries by 2020, Medvedev said.

The President also urged the creation of at least 25 million new jobs, preliminary in non-raw material fields, which would boost the development of Russia’s regions. He stressed that in next few years the number of unemployed should be limited to 5 per cent.

At least five Russian universities should join the world’s top 100, Medvedev noted.

“Sixth, the majority of Russian families should be able to improve their living conditions at least once in 15 years,” the head of state stressed.

Finally, Russia should be among the top ten countries in adopting electronic technologies in all fields of public life.

“I’m sure that if the state works efficiently and openly, all these goals will be achieved,” Medvedev told the gathering.

Economic principles

According to the President, the government should follow five principles when making economic decisions.

“First, entrepreneurial talent should be considered a most important public value,” he said. Second, state interference in the economy should be minimal and transparent.

The third principle stands for an unbiased attitude of law enforcement agencies to organizations of any kind of patterns of ownership. All companies should be equally protected, Medvedev stressed.

The fourth, economic regulation must be competitive on an international level. And, finally, all stakeholders must take part in defining “the rules of the game.”

‘Democracy no longer a swearword’

Speaking about political reform underway in the country, Medvedev expressed confidence that it will make the state stronger.

The “prestige” of democracy has been restored and “its prospects in our country are guaranteed,” he stated.

According to the President, the return to direct elections of regional governors, much simpler rules for registration of new political parties, as well as the new procedure of parliamentary elections indicate “a higher level of political culture within the society.”

Medvedev believes that political variety and direct involvement of citizens in the political process will not lead to a “return of chaos.” On the contrary, it would make the state both stronger and more efficient.

The heads of all the country’s regions, the cabinet and members of the newly created Extended (or Big) Government, MPs and leaders of political parties were invited to the event on Tuesday.