MOSCOW, April 21. /TASS/. Coronavirus has not been defeated yet but now its aftermath needs to be overcome, namely in terms of Russians’ health and the country’s demographic situation, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in his State of the Nation Address to the Federal Assembly.
TASS has summed up the key takeaways of the president’s address on Wednesday.
The beginning of the pandemic was a time of "absolute uncertainty," but the president never had any doubts that Russia would weather this storm. Russian citizens, society and the state acted responsibly and in unity and millions of Russians who fought against the pandemic worked promptly, listening to their conscience.
The breakthrough by Russian scientists having developed the three vaccines, demonstrated "the country’s growing scientific and technological potential."
So far, coronavirus has not been defeated and remains a direct threat, and it is necessary to follow doctors’ recommendations in a very responsible way.
Vaccination is of key importance now and the opportunity to get a COVID-19 jab should be provided everywhere in order to develop herd immunity by this autumn, Putin stated.
Russia is facing an emergency demographic situation now. It’s necessary to resume stable growth of the population and achieve an average life expectancy of 78 years by 2030. In particular, the government should fulfill additional measures on combating diseases, which are the main causes of deaths, for example, coronary vascular diseases. Starting July 1, a medical checkup program for Russians of all ages needs to be launched. At least by the end of this year, it’s necessary to extend the refund program for tourist trips across Russia. Parents, who send their children to summer camps, should be 50-percent compensated for these costs.
The healthcare system around the globe is on the verge of a revolution and Russia cannot miss this opportunity. Domestic medicine should be based on next-generation technologies. Putin also called for measures to help the emergency services in Russia's regions.
The pandemic has dealt a heavy blow to people’s welfare around the world and this is a challenge for all countries, including Russia. The key priority for the authorities is to ensure that public’s real income grows.
By July 1, Russia is due to build a comprehensive system of support for families with children. Russia will introduce a financial stimulus package for children aged 8-16, who live in single-parent families to the tune of 5,650 rubles ($73) per month.
Besides, pregnant women in a challenging financial situation will receive payments of 6,350 rubles ($82) per month (after the sixth week of pregnancy).
In addition, families with school-age children and future first-graders will get 10,000 rubles ($130) this year.
Education and culture
Russia will build 1,300 new schools for 1 mln children. Additional spending will be allocated for purchasing school buses. In the coming two years, universities will provide 45,000 state-funded places, mainly in the regions. In 2021-2024, at least 100 regional universities will get 116.2 bln rubles ($1.5 bln) in funding.
A presidential foundation focusing on cultural initiatives will be created in 2021, and it will offer grants to the tune of 3.5 bln rubles ($45.8 mln).
By 2024, some 1.63 trillion rubles ($21.3 bln) will be earmarked for civil scientific research. Innovation programs will be created, which will receive a status of national importance. In particular, this is providing a fully independent production of vaccines. Besides, in the event of a new dangerous infection outbreak, Russia should be ready to develop an effective testing system within four days and create a vaccine against it at the earliest.
Environment and climate
The president noted that new energy, the pharmaceutical industry and climate change should encourage the modernization of the domestic industry. Russia needs comprehensive approaches to different areas in the sphere of energy, including along the hydrocarbon and nuclear track. Russia should adapt various spheres to climate change, ensure tough control in the field of combating harmful emissions. Russian cities should introduce quotas on emissions.
The authorities should also fast-track establishing financial responsibility for enterprises for environmental damage and in 2021 introduce extended responsibilities for producers for packaging recycling.
Environmental payments should be spent on restoring the environment.
Support for businesses
The Russian government should revive the labor market by late 2021 and within a month it is expected to provide new measures of support for small and medium-sized businesses.
What’s more, foreign currency controls for exporters of non-raw materials should be eased.
By the end of 2021, decisions should be made on fine-tuning the nation’s tax legislation. All these measures should turn the revenues of the business sector into investments. The authorities should incentivize those who invest rather than those who pay out dividends.
Russia will lift entry restrictions on tourists as soon as this opportunity arises. It’s necessary to ensure that citizens in the majority of world countries are able to get a digital visa for trips to Russia within four days.
The development of tourist facilities will be financed by loans at preferential rates of 3-5%.
On the foreign policy track, Moscow is acting coolly, despite the obnoxious behavior demonstrated by other countries, which have developed into a very bad habit of taking digs at Russia and thereby transforming into some sort of sport.
Russia seeks to have good relations with all countries. Moscow has no intention of burning any bridges even with its opponents, but, if they themselves seek that, then they should be prepared to a swift and harsh response, Putin said. Meanwhile, Russia will determine the red lines in its ties with other countries in each particular case.
Russia keeps reinforcing its armed forces. In particular, in its nuclear triad, the share of modern equipment will reach 90% by late 2021. Meanwhile, Moscow is calling for global stability and suggests creating "a security equation" for the whole world.