On April 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered his annual Address to the Federal Assembly. It was the 17th Address by the incumbent head of state, in which he traditionally presented his assessment of the situation in the country. He talked about Russia’s development and measures to support people and businesses, as well as national security.
To prepare for the address, the president chaired meetings with his administration and government officials, Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said ahead of the event. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, representatives of media outlets were asked to wear face masks and maintain social distancing. Moreover, journalists had to show a certificate confirming several negative COVID-19 tests. Even LDPR party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky brought along a vaccination certificate and showed it before the start of the event in a live Channel One broadcast. Apparently, that was why Zhirinovsky was not wearing a face mask during the President's Address, in contrast to many others.
Vladimir Putin's Address to the Federal Assembly started at 12:04 p.m. Moscow time at the Manezh exhibition hall and lasted for 78 minutes. At the beginning of his speech, the Russian President made it clear that the Address was mainly focused on Russia’s domestic issues.
“Today’s Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly will be dedicated mostly to internal issues. These include, naturally, healthcare, social policy, and the economy. Of course, I will say a few words about external affairs and literally a few words about security issues.” Putin said.
According to the Russian president, our country and the whole world were challenged by a new, unknown, and extremely dangerous infection last year. Putin said that during meetings with experts and conversations with the leaders of many countries in that period, he often heard the following description of the situation: we are faced with total uncertainty. Yet, according to the president, citizens, society and the state acted responsibly and in unison.
"Russian researchers made a real breakthrough, and Russia now has three reliable coronavirus vaccines," Putin said. “These and many other achievements of the past few years highlight the country’s growing science and technological potential.” The Russian President expressed his gratitude to all those who had contributed to the fight against COVID-19.
“Some people might think that Vladimir Putin mostly prefers to talk about foreign policy issues,” Political Information Center Director General Alexei Mukhin told wek.ru. “However, this time, they received only cursory mention and in a very specific way. Putin said that Russia was a sovereign country and that it would draw "red lines" on its own determining who has crossed them and who hasn’t. To my thinking, this was quite a slap in the face for our opponents, who have been behaving very boorishly toward Russia recently.”
However, this year a larger part of the Address was devoted to domestic politics and socio-economic issues. The day before, Peskov said that the Address might deal with “socio-economic, technological, and other development issues.”
For his part, Mukhin said that the most important thing was that this speech was socially and economically oriented. In his opinion, by focusing on socio-economic policy, Putin drew attention to the fact that there was no time to relax. He voiced these guidelines, but the Russian legislators and executives should not just be waiting for him to give more detailed comments and instructions. Mukhin is confident that the situation has completely changed now because Putin has already been encouraging the whole power vertical at the federal, regional, and municipal levels to work to the full extent.
"I believe that this clear guideline urging everyone to work and do their job effectively is the bottom line," he said.