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Journalists find no sensations in RF president’s address to Federal Assembly

December 13, 2012, 12:34 UTC+3

Analysts have stressed that the president literally in passing touched upon the problem of interaction with the West

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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday delivered the first after the presidential election address to the Federal Assembly, however, it contained no sensational issues, the media believe. Analysts have stressed that the president literally in passing touched upon the problem of interaction with the West.

Putin would not correct the Constitution, but instead put forward other radical initiatives that had long been predicted by experts, the Novye Izvestia newspaper writes. The president, for example, suggested to consider the issue of the return to a mixed system of elections to the State Duma - by party lists and single-member constituencies, as well as to discuss the issue of returning of electoral blocs to the elections.

The president's address made no sensations, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily emphasises. Unless, certainly, the absence of several important topics in the president's speech are considered as such. On the eve of the president's state-of-the-nation address delivery, there were repeated leaks of information from sources connected with the presidential administration suggesting that the speech would be strategic in nature and go beyond the annual address framework. It has been reported that the address would actually contain the guidelines of the work of the president and the country for the next five to six years, however, three themes were absent in his speech. First: the reform of the Armed Forces. Second, Russia's integration in the world, and third: a comprehensive vision of the reform of the entire judicial system in the country.

The most important political news in the president's speech was the promise to think about the electoral system change. This part of the address looked like an answer to civil society, which a year ago had with the maximum force expressed dissatisfaction with the last parliamentary campaign. Criticism of the authorities on this matter gradually grew into the two main demands. So, the president focused on them.

However, Putin said that "a civilized dialogue is possible only with those political forces that in the same civilised way put forward, justify and formulate their demands, defend them within the law." This was already a response to street opposition, symbolically sounded almost on the eve of another March of Freedom. Thus the authorities have made it clear that they "separate flies from cutlets," and do not intend to give in to those who seek to achieve their goals by actions of protest.

The RF president touched upon literally in passing upon the problems of interaction with the West, and in the broadest sense - with the outside world. His speech, however, contained a few pointers to the Common Economic Space and Customs Union issues. But he said nothing about the relations with the West as a repository of the ideas of modern civilisation, the standards of a modern state.

What are the reasons for Putin's avoiding a conversation on this subject? the newspaper asks. Presumably, his advisers did not have the time to develop a doctrine of foreign policy integration - with a focus on the West - with sufficient completeness. Member of the Scientific Council of the Moscow Carnegie Centre Alexei Malashenko suggests there is another reason. He explains the gap in the presidential address by cooling of relations between Russia and the West that have manifested themselves in the West's acute response to the Pussy Riot case trial and the Magnitsky Act that has been adopted by the United States. The expert is confident: "The president is hard put - he does not know how to raise this issue. I think that Putin hopes for the improvement of relations, despite the Magnitsky List and all the rest. He realises that it's not the right time now for the Munich speech - everyone knows the opponent's capabilities." In addition, Malashenko noted, "Obama still behaves quite politely and intelligently, again in spite of the 'list..."

Another theme which, in the opinion of experts, was not adequately reflected in the address is the military reform. In addition to general words about the need to raise the level of defence, he said almost nothing. Including the sensitive issue of the corruption component of this reform. Although many observers were expecting clarification - even an answer to the question: why the reform undertaken by Anatoly Serdyukov met with fierce resistance in the army? When the address says nothing about the crucial sector of the economy in which 2 trillion roubles will be invested in the coming years, it's surprising. And makes one think that the scandal with Serdyukov has caused confusion in the government, which finds it difficult to work out a clear stance.

The Vedomosti newspaper in an editorial opinion calls the address to the Federal Assembly of familiar and well established genre for Vladimir Putin.

The publication notes that Putin, the same as in 2005, spoke of officialdom as a closed caste and also said that the government should be effective, and services for the population should have high quality.

As in 2006, Putin spoke of demography as the condition of preservation of the country, on supporting the birth rate, attracting compatriots from abroad, the need to change the structure of the economy. The same as in 2007 - about the importance of the Russian language and culture as a unifying factor for the peoples of the former USSR and about provision of housing to the military.

Putin said how the country lives (sometimes difficult, but in general better) and as it will live on (even better). This political information contains where appropriate a set of common mantras and a set of concrete proposals, according to the newspaper. The address, in the opinion of the publication, was quite short, less connected, contained less specific things and created a feeling of the president's certain fatigue.

The general signal of this address was apparently to be the confirmation of stability as the main characteristic of Putin's rule, which is tightly connected with him personally. This "stability" is out of tune with the demand for change that the society clearly expressed in 2012. This is not stability, but stagnation, the Vedomosti daily believes. 




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