One just had to wonder about his mood only days after announcing that he would give up something he wanted, another term as president, to step aside and make way for the return of Vladimir Putin.
President Medvedev set personal desires aside and moved forward to complete his duties right up until the 7th of May, the day he will relinquish his responsibilities to the Russian people and move forward to the next phase of public service.
So, it was after those exhausting days at the United Russia party congress in Moscow that President Medveded traveled to Chelyabinsk where today he observed the final stage of the Centre-2011 strategic military exercises at the Chebarkul training ground. Only partially tongue in cheek, it occurred to some that after the excitement of facing down and publically firing Finance Minister Alexi Kudrin, perhaps the war exercises were a bit more relaxing and low key.
Following a demonstration of the troops’ exercises, Dmitry Medvedev awarded state decorations to exercise participants and met with commanders of divisions and units of the Armed Forces, Interior Ministry, Federal Drug Control Service and other law enforcement agencies that participated in the exercises.
The President awarded state decorations to exercise participants. In his address, Mr. Medvedev noted the successful interaction between multi-service and diversified forces by saying, “We are reforming our Armed Forces, consistently creating new features and improving the organisational structure, the training system and support for the army and navy. Nevertheless, there are certain difficulties, which is natural because the task that we have undertaken is enormous. As all of you know very well – those of you who have served for a long time and those who began service only recently – our Armed Forces have not seen a reform on this scale in recent years.”
In response to those that say his desire for modernization is unnecessary, Mr. Medvedev said, “Today we must give priority to comprehensive modern military training and acquisition of new equipment and weapons. We have just seen examples of new technology. All the necessary conditions exist to achieve these objects today. The army should not simply evolve but it must dispose of those functions that are called inessential. The army must carry out its duties rather than engage in housekeeping affairs. The transition to modern staff organisation and troop control system is difficult but absolutely necessary.”
The Center-2011 strategic exercises of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) began on September 19 simultaneously at six training grounds in Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and are aimed at practicing the deployment of multi-service forces in the Central Asian direction.
Russia’s longtime finance minister is out, sacked for insubordination on Monday after he and President Medvedev disagreed over budget items while on a live television program. The two men have often disagreed but never in public. Earlier in the weekend Mr. Kudrin criticized both Medvedev and Putin at a meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington, saying that Medvedev’s military spending was irresponsible and blaming Putin for failing to account for deficits in Russia’s pension funds.
Alexi Kudrin was not only Russia’s Finance Minister, but he also served as Deputy Prime Minister to Vladimir Putin and insiders have speculated that the exchange may have been a set-up for Kudrin to muscle out Medvedev as the next Prime Minister after the 2012 elections in which Mr. Putin’s return to the presidency is an almost certainty.
During the Sunday broadcast Mr. Kudrin openly questioned the president’s competence in economic affairs and then surprised the audience with the announcement that he’d rather quit than work for Mr. Medvedev, who is slated to become prime minister next year in a leadership swap with Vladimir V. Putin.
During the televised meeting from Dimitrovgrad, Mr. Medvedev said that,“No one has abolished discipline and subordination. If you think that you have different views on the economic agenda from the president, and that is me, then you can write a corresponding letter of resignation. You must answer, of course, here and now. Will you write the letter?”
Obviously surprised, Mr. Kudrin answered that he would seek the advice of Prime Minister Putin.
Not to be sidetracked, President Medvedev retorted that, “You can seek advice from whomever you want, including from the prime minister, but while I am president, I will make such decisions. You need to decide, and quickly.”
Just hours later Mr. Medvedev signed an executive order releasing Mr. Kudrin from his duties and the presidential press secretary confirmed that the firing was done with Mr. Putin’s knowledge. Under the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the prime minister must approve such actions.
Are there breaks within the ruling elite that could divide the tandem of Medvedev and Putin? Some analysts believe that firing was motivated by a desire to solidify Mr. Medvedev’s credibility after his ceding power back to Mr. Putin next year as announced in last week’s United Russia party congress. However, Mr. Putin and Mr. Kudrin have also shared a long and close friendship and some believe the move is a way to release Kudrin to seek the Prime Minister position in 2012.
Mr. Kudrin was an essential member of the governing team that Mr. Putin initially put together while president, and some investors feel that his departure from the government could worsen Russia’s economic woes.
Mr. Kudrin was among the St. Petersburg elite who brought Mr. Putin to Moscow in the 1990s to serve then-president Yeltsin.
(Moscow) It was at Skolkovo, the high tech technology development and Russia’s answer to Silicon Valley that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev first hinted that he would not run for a 2nd term as president in 2012. It wasn’t in what he said, but rather what he didn’t say on that spring day outside Moscow. What Mr. Medvedev did say in his first full press confidence as president was that he might be willing to retire “someday” in order to teach tomorrow’s leaders on the Skolkovo campus.
In the opening days of summer the two would spend a day bicycling together and holding intense talks in a prominent Moscow park and speculation still swirled as to who of the two would run for the top spot in Russia. The photo opportunities presented the two men united in purpose to serve Russia, adding to the rumours surrounding the political future of the largest geographical country in the world.
In August President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin went fishing in the Astrakhan region on the Volga River and as both men smiled while Medvedev was photographed with the larger fish, one could sense that the Medvedev presidency was in lame duck mode. Gone was the defiant Medvedev who had replaced Putin hires, used executive powers to overturn Putin policies and made decisions often viewed as opposite from the more hard-line Putin.
Last week however the speculation was heightened when Prime Minister Putin announced that Russian army and police salaries would be effectively doubled. The significance of the announcement was that the figure was higher than had recently been promised by President Medvedev. Just as significant was the news that the salary increase would be funded by Russian gas producer, Gazprom, a company tied to the Kremlin and formerly run by Medvedev.
For his part, Dmitry Medvedev was silent and the image of the President as someone about to step aside was more pronounced causing observers like Timothy Heritage of Reuters to write on Wednesday that “Despite hinting he wants a second term, the president has sunk deeper into Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s shadow in the past few weeks and disappointed supporters by failing to announce he will run in the presidential election in March.”
Any remaining speculation ended this weekend at the United Russia party convention when on Saturday party Chairman Putin announced on Saturday that he would return to the top spot on the United Russia ticket, effectively assuring the world that he would retake the post after Russia’s presidential elections in March of 2012. Under new rules adopted by the Duma during the Medvedev era the new presidential term will be for 6 years, making it possible for Mr. Putin to occupy the post for 12 years. Vladimir Putin was born in 1952 and would be 72 if he served two additional terms.
Addressing the convention, President Medvedev set up Mr. Putin’s announcement by saying, Good afternoon, dear friends. Naturally, it’s a pleasure to speak here: there is a special energy in this room, it’s simply charged with emotions. And of course, we are meeting on a special day: there are ten weeks until election day, and today you will approve the lists of candidates for State Duma deputies and the party’s campaign programme.
A few words about how the elections will take place (I am obliged to say that as head of state, President and guarantor of the Constitution): they will be held under new rules. Thanks to a number of decisions in which you were directly involved, we have significantly revamped our electoral legislation. Together we have enacted a number of initiatives aimed at increasing the role of citizens in the work of governing institutions, in order to improve the quality of popular representation. And during this work United Russia has shown itself to be a strong and, I would even say, generous party, consistently improving the conditions for political competition.
For many years now United Russia has acted as a national political leader able to lead not only in its own interests, but also to rise above narrow group interests, to listen not only to its own supporters but – and this is particularly difficult – to its opponents as well, to pursue strategic goals rather than short-term benefits, and to work in the realm of the possible in the interests of all regions, social groups and citizens of our country. To be a nationwide and all-Russian party in the fullest sense is especially important.
But I would like to praise other processes as well. In line with policies described above, measures have been taken to strengthen democratic processes within the party itself. A new level of political culture has taken hold not only with regard to external matters, but also in relationships between colleagues. Of course, the party retains a strong discipline, just like any other. This is by no means invalid, and helps prevent confusion and hesitation, but excessive formalism and bureaucracy are also very dangerous. They lead to the stagnation and degradation of the political system. And unfortunately, we have already witnessed this in our country’s history. I am glad that the party understands this.
I remember well speaking to a similar congress in 2009, when I supported the idea of compulsory primaries and the party’s obligatory participation in the debates on elections for all levels of government. Relevant amendments were made to the party’s charter, and the positive effects of this are visible today, right in this room. Congress delegates include many new, and simply very nice people. This is very good to see.
And in large part this is thanks to primary elections, primaries in which candidates are nominated for the next election. This is a unique case in Russian politics, and not all parties are ready for this. I have talked about it with the leaders of other parties – some are skeptical about primaries, and I think they fear them. And therefore I believe that this system of primary voting is an important sign of United Russia’s maturity and openness.
Of course, it did not all go perfectly smoothly, and perhaps not all losers were able to accept their defeat. In human terms we understand that this is difficult, but as a whole primary voting has proved effective. The party itself passed a very serious test. I congratulate all of you on this.
Our voters are aware of United Russia’s work on numerous party projects designed to help resolve the most important and pressing social problems. The party actively helps those who have been made redundant (and unfortunately this problem remains very acute), assists investors who have been deceived, and supports joint equity home ownership. You have organised social control to prevent the rise of housing and utilities prices, and to reign in irresponsible operators who unjustifiably raise service fees.
You pay a great deal of attention to the development of children’s sports, you are tackling the problem of the shortage of day care facilities, working on improving the health of our citizens and repairing our roads, as well as supporting talented young people. All of these represent extremely pressing problems, most urgent tasks. Their solution requires daily, time consuming and obscure work – it is much easier to simply talk about something on television – and this is difficult field work. It is this work that our citizens see and appreciate.
I would like to thank you sincerely for your continued and active support for my political strategy. The party proposed my candidacy for the post of president, it has supported me in the past and continues to do so today. This strategy will define the contours of our development in the coming years. I would like to list just a few elements of it, in order to emphasize the unity of our goals.
First. This consists in the modernisation of our economy, education systems, improving industry using technology, improving the investment climate, creating infrastructure for innovations, as well as improving productivity and safety in order to ensure high incomes for citizens, large profits for companies, and revenues for budgets of all levels.
Second is the fulfillment of social obligations, increasing, in the realm of the possible, of course, salaries, pensions, and welfare payments, fighting against poverty, and modernising healthcare.
Third is the eradication of corruption, ensuring the transparency of information about officials’ incomes, public purchases made by ministries and agencies, and the transparency of the decisions they take, as well as the appraisal by civic experts of all government initiatives that directly affect citizens’ property rights and the scope of their civil liberties.
Fourth involves strengthening the judicial system in light of the principles of independence, transparency and justice, making the criminal legislation governing so-called economic violations or crimes more humane, and increasing the penalties for violent crimes, especially those committed against children, as well as for terrorist acts.
Fifth is facilitating interethnic and interreligious peace, the fight against illegal immigration, ethnically motivated crimes, manifestations of xenophobia and separatism, and supporting the free development of all cultures of the peoples of Russia, as well as all traditional religions.
The sixth has already been mentioned: it is the establishment of a modern political system. We need a responsive, modern political system which provides everyone, including the smallest social groups, with the opportunity to be heard and included in the processes of governance and public administration. This will allow us to make sure that our country does not contain powerless and helpless people; it is very important that freedom and justice remain realities for everyone.
Seventh is maintaining internal and external security, an effective police force, powerful Armed Forces, and increasing the prestige of service in the army, navy and law enforcement agencies.
And of course the eighth element is an independent, sensible foreign policy, ultimately motivated by only one goal, namely increasing the well-being of our people and guaranteeing their security. I can tell you, and I have witnessed this more than once, that you have supported me in all these fields. I sincerely appreciate this support: thank you for it. And I think that United Russia really is a pro-presidential party.
Just before, as party head Vladimir Putin officially addressed me and the congress with the proposal that I head United Russia’s party list. Of course this is a responsible position and a very serious proposal. I accept.
I accept and would like to explain my reasons for doing so, in addition to emotional ones. First of all, as I just said, everything the party has worked for and continues to work for is in line with my priorities for our country’s development, and the party actively helped my work as president. For that reason ensuring the modernisation of our economic and social life and political system is our shared burden. We therefore have common ideas about the future of our country, common plans for its future, and common answers to the most significant challenges facing our nation, and this is the most important thing.
Secondly, we are similarly aware of what our country should not be. It must not be weak, poor, ineffective, or break up into parts. It should not suffer from technological backwardness, the arbitrariness of officials, corruption, terrorism, and it must not be isolated. These are positions that we share.
Third, all of us in this room believe that the party itself needs a major overhaul. It must become more open, efficient and, if you want, more rigorous in advancing its priorities.
It must get rid of those random people who attached themselves to it in order to achieve their own, selfish ends; it must finally become younger and more creative in order to compete with the other political forces in our country. Looking around this room, I’m absolutely sure of this.
So if you are ready to entrust me with this job, I’m ready to do it. And
if the party wins the election, which I’m convinced it will, if we continue to work as well as we have in the past, then I am ready to continue to make a real contribution to modernising our economy, raising the living standards of our people, and creating a modern lawful state. Today I think it is right to pay attention to the practical measures necessary to modernise our lives. A dramatically overhauled Russian Government formed by the winning party, which I am sure will be United Russia, should work at this.
Finally, I propose we decide on another very important issue which naturally concerns the party and all of our people who follow politics, namely the candidate for the role of president. In light of the proposal that I head the party list, do party work and, if we perform well in the elections, my willingness to engage in practical work in the Government, I think it’s right that the party congress support the candidacy of the current prime minister, Vladimir Putin, in the role of the country’s president.
(Crowd applause) This applause gives me the right to refrain from further elaborating on Vladimir Putin’s experience and authority.
A few more words on this subject. I was always asked when we would decide, when we would tell people, and sometimes Vladimir Putin and I were asked: “have you two fought?” I want to fully confirm what I just said. What we are proposing to the congress is a deeply thought-through decision. And even more, we already discussed this scenario back when we first formed a friendly alliance. And I very much hope that the passage of years have shown us, and the majority of our citizens, the correctness of our strategy and the effectiveness of the existing governance model.
But while we waited a long time to reveal publicly our positions and the scenario for the next elections, I hope that you, and our citizens, will understand that this was a matter of political expediency, linked to the specific political practices of our country. But I would like to emphasise one thing: we have always told the truth.
Finally, and most importantly, the choice is yours, and that of all the people of Russia.
Dear friends, we know why we are going to the polls: in order to win. Today in this room it seems very appropriate to remind our political opponents of the fact that until very recently, only about a decade ago, our country was in the deepest decline, locked in a systemic crisis whose effects were comparable to the damages incurred by civil war. They should remember that. Together we have overcome the most difficult challenges, and raised ourselves up. We are the millions of citizens of our country, the great people of a great state. Through common efforts we preserved and restored our beloved homeland, our Russia. And we will not give her up. We will not give her up to those who want to destroy her, we will not give her away to those who deceive people with empty and unrealistic slogans and promises.
Our beloved country, our Russia, must belong to free, honest and responsible people. I’m sure that it will be that way.
Friends, I am very excited and would like to sincerely thank the conference, the United Russia party and all of you for your trust, everyone who is here today because it shows our common aspiration to achieve the goals that Mr Putin and I talked about.
All of us here in this hall are united in our feeling of excitement but there is still a lot of hard work ahead. We must go through the elections. The election cycle is long and we should all get mobilised to do some serious work. I am talking about the preparations for the elections to the State Duma, then the elections of the President of the Russian Federation, and finally for the formation of the Government of the Russian Federation. I’m confident that we will achieve all of this. Why? Because the goals we have set for ourselves are shared by the overwhelming majority of Russian people. And however much our opponents criticise us – and of course the government and the party are not immune to mistakes – nevertheless, progress has been absolutely steady, and the vast majority of people have been able to feel the benefits of our achievements.
When I speak with ordinary people, my old friends, the people I grew up and studied with, they all note the problems and the mistakes, but they say, “Still, life has changed for the better in our country in recent years.” This comes from the heart and it means that our efforts are not in vain, it means that we have chosen the right path. Our task today is not to abandon this path and to be more efficient, more honest, more open, and sometimes more demanding in order to achieve the results that we are going to achieve.
I am sure we will have many good occasions to discuss our achievements, but now I want to ask you to get ready to do some very serious and very responsible work. And if we succeed, we will have a modern, creative and efficient parliament and we will win the presidential election with a landslide and will elect our candidate, and not some other.
After that we will put together a government, and if we succeed I am ready to head that government and work for the benefit of our nation.
Mr. Putin announced that he planned to name Mr. Medvedev to head the government as Prime Minister after the 2012 election.
While certainly justified, you’d think that somebody is running for president. First President Dmitry Medvedev announced that police and military salaries would be increased by an average of 30% next year. Funding would come from the general fund.
Yesterday (Wednesday) the Prime Minister’s Cabinet approved a doubling of salaries, the funds to come from an increased tax on Gazprom’s gas extraction operations, handing over to the government another 150 billion rubles in to cover the increases. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said that increased gas prices justified the increase and that Gazprom (managed by the Kremlin) could produce the funding.
Nothing like doubling pay of an important and visible part of Russian society just in time for the upcoming parliamentary elections and then next year’s president elections.
Muscovites are waiting for the reopening of the Большой театр (Bolshoi Theatre) which is to open on 28 October following an extensive renovation. Yesterday Russian President Dmitry Medvedev viewed the theatre building and toured the renovated and newly-built premises. During the tour, the President was shown unique technical solutions employed in the theatre’s reconstruction. Mr Medvedev will officially open the historic theatre on 28 October and as a prelude he also attended a rehearsal for the opening night of the first ballet performance.
In addition, the President talked with ballet dancers and members of the restoration, renovation and technical re-equipment team working on the historical building of the Bolshoi Theatre.
Officially named the State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater of Russia, the restoration and renovation of the Bolshoi Theatre’s main building is being carried out in accordance with Presidential Executive Order of August 28, 2000. Founded in 1730 and at the existing site since 1825, the Bolshoi has undergone two major renovations. The first building was destroyed in a fire in March of 1853. The current project began in 2005 under the Mr. Medvedev’s personal supervision.
(photo by maksmasterov.livejournal)
Despite the renovations the Bolshoi kept a limited schedule of performances in what is called “The New Stage” of Bolshoi Theatre, a facility near the original building which was opened on November 29, 2000. “The New Stage” is a restored 17th century building grouped with other State auxiliary buildings and includes rehearsal halls, artist recreation and practice rooms, a single theater complex, and support facilities for theatre operations.
The extensive renovations were funded by the government after the main building was closed for restoration in 2005 and first projected to reopen in 2009. However after engineers determined that the structure was more than 75 percent unstable, completion of the project was pushed back to 2011. The original cost estimates were close to 15 billion rubles ($610 million USD) however the extended project will push the total past $730 million.
The Bolshoi is scheduled to open on October 28, 2011 with premiere of Glinka’s opera “Ruslan and Lyudmila.”
(Moscow region) In a meeting with regional governors, University rectors, and the representatives of student organizations across Russia, President Medvedev discussed the issues of increasing scholarships, improving student living conditions, developing campuses and addressing students’ healthcare.
During the meeting President Medvedev announced that he had signed an Executive Order establishing scholarships for students enrolled in university programmes in five areas essential for economic modernisation, as well as scholarships for graduate and undergraduate students for achievements in science and education. The scholarships will be paid out from 2012.
The president started the meeting by stating; “Russia has more than nine million students, which is 6% of the population. I think this is a very substantial figure if we compare Russia with other countries. It is vitally important for the country that young people receive the kind of education that is most in demand and later take up competitive positions in the economy and social sphere, that they become modern, thinking and creative people who have the opportunity for self-realisation.”
“The first thing that is of great concern to students is the financial aspect and their scholarships. The scholarships students receive today are not very big, 1,200 rubles. Scholarships were always modest, also at the time when I was a student, but in comparison with the purchasing power today, in real terms scholarships have become smaller than they were in Soviet times.”
In September authorities raised the average scholarship amount by 9% and up to a 20% increase for high ranking students. Scholarships across Russia are awarded in accordance with criteria set out by the Russian Union of Student Organizations.
Mr. Medvedev had earlier in the day signed an Executive Order on awarding scholarships to students enrolled in higher education institutions which train personnel for the five priority areas for the modernisation of the Russian economy. During 2012 students at these schools will receive 7,000 rubles, while graduate students will get 14,000 rubles. In addition Mr. Medvedev said that government scholarships will be paid to undergraduate and graduate students in the amount of 5,000 and 10,000 rubles, respectively. As a comparison, based on today’s trading 1 Ruble converts to .31 cents (USD) and 5000 rubles equals $159. dollars. Annual tuition, books, fees and dorm costs vary from $6,000 to $15,000+ depending on the region, the university and the course of study.
The president also addressed student accommodation by saying, “It’s no secret that many student halls were built decades ago, some even hundreds of years ago, and they are morally and physically obsolete. I remember my own student years. The dormitories at Leningrad State University were appalling. I am from St Petersburg so I lived at home, but when I went to the dorm to visit my friends I couldn’t believe that people not only slept there but they also studied and managed to learn something and get good marks.”
The president issued a challenge to regional governors in attendance, promising that Russia would not only renovate existing buildings, but also build new dormitories, which meet modern sanitary and safety standards.
Recently Russia has announced plans to build new campus facilities at other universities as well, in particular at the National University of Science and Technology MISIS, and in other regions, not only in Moscow or the Far East.
(Moscow) Белая Дача (Belaya Dacha) will be the name of Russia’s first Outlet Stores Mall to open in the Spring of 2012. Developed by European based real estate firm Hines and the Belaya Dacha Group, 90% of the leases have already been signed with luxury brands including TsUM, which will open a 528-square-meter outlet, as well as Ferragamo, Trussardi, Burberry, US Polo, Escada and CK Jeans. A Puma store will occupy 345 square meters and a 1,295-square-meter outlet will house Adidas Original, RockPort and Reebok.
The developers say that the total net leasable area of the Outlet Village Belaya Dacha project, located in Kotelniki, Moscow region, is 38,000 square meters. Construction is due to be finished by the end of this year, and the grand opening is planned for early April 2012.
Lee Timmins, senior vice president of Hines Russia said:“Outlet centres are a highly popular and profitable concept in Europe and the US but do not yet exist in Russia. We have investigated the readiness of the Russian market for the outlet centre concept, and have discussed the project and timing with representatives of major brands and potential tenants. The result of this investigation has been confirmation that the Russian market has enormous potential for outlet retail schemes and very considerable demand for this format of retail center. Having a project jointly sponsored by an international company with a history of success in this market and an experienced Russian partner, we have great confidence in the success of this new project.”
In addition to stores the outlet will also feature restaurants, cafes and a childcare centre. Food operators include Il Patio and Planet Sushi. The developers also estimate that the project will create over 900 jobs.
According to Vladimir Tsyganov, general director of Belaya Dacha PJSC said:“Our joint efforts with Hines will turn the town of Kotelniki into a regional retail destination center on the South-East of Moscow. We are getting support from the Kotelniki administration, and regional and federal road authorities are currently building a new road connection to MKAD that will make site accessibility easy and comfortable for future customers.”