Putin delivers government’s annual address to State Duma

RIA Novosti / Aleksey Druzhinin, STF
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has accounted for the government’s activities and outlined the prospects of Russia’s social and economic development during his annual address to, the State Duma on Tuesday.

The government managed to carry out anti-crisis measures last year without any cuts in social spending, Putin noted in his address to the lower house of parliament. The recession of the Russian economy is over, he said. In 2010, the GDP should grow by 3.1 per cent.

In 2011, the reform of the medical sphere will be started with the government allocating some 300 billion rubles ($10 billion) for the modernization of medical institutions over the next two years.

Putin also promised to continue selective support of car and housing sectors. At the same time, he noted that the state should not increase its presence in the economy. The nationalization course was avoided during the crisis, the premier said.

At the same time, it is difficult to speak about freedom of enterprise “when some market sectors are practically closed to it and are artificially monopolized by state companies,” he noted.

Russia will also continue to support defense industry. Putin said he was satisfied with the tests of a Russian fifth-generation fighter jet.

Speaking after Putin’s address, Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the opposition Communist Party’s faction in the State Duma, sharply criticized the government’s handling of the crisis. He called on the ministers to change the course they are pursuing, “otherwise the resignation will become inevitable.”

Russia is lagging behind many developed countries in most spheres, Zyuganov said. He also demanded that Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov immediately be dismissed for failing to reform the armed forces, “so as not to disgrace the country.”

However, most deputies supported the government’s activities in a parliament’s statement adopted after the discussion, with 314 deputies voting for this decision and 86 against it.

The United Russia party, headed by Putin, has the constitutional majority in the Duma. Head of the party’s supreme council and speaker of the lower house Boris Gryzlov said that United Russia “remains the country’s main political force.”

Gryzlov added that the party’s faction will “render the necessary legislative support to the government to secure the results in the anti-crisis work and strategic activities.”

Putin hailed the format of communicating between the executive and legislative branches of power. He described the annual address as “a good tradition” and called the discussion in the State Duma “useful.”

Sergey Borisov, RT