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Meeting with Government members

December 24, 2020, Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region

The President chaired a traditional meeting with Government members ahead of New Year holidays, this year held via videoconference.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, friends,

Mr Mishustin,

We have this good tradition to meet at the end of December, just after the annual final meeting of the Government. So today I would like to use this opportunity and support this tradition, to offer my best New Year wishes and to thank all of you for your hard work in 2020, which was so difficult and complicated.

Many of you only just took office in January, when the new cabinet of ministers was formed, and two months later, in March, you had to start working in a completely different mode, in any case not the one you were initially expecting, when the entire world and our country, Russia, came face to face with the coronavirus outbreak.

We had to deal with a real threat to the life and health of thousands, tens of thousands of our citizens, with an absolutely new challenge, and one of colossal complexity. But such extraordinary situations, such emergencies immediately show (I think you all agree with me), they make it clear who is who, and what they are really capable of.

And here I would like to underscore that the Government has been up to the mark this year. In a short time, you set up systematic, well-coordinated work. Even in the most difficult moments, there was no confusion, and no one gave up – this much is quite obvious. On the contrary, you have maintained equanimity, composure, and efficiency. You have shouldered a heavy burden. I have already spoken about this using a hyperbole, a figure of speech and an exaggeration, I said you worked around the clock, day and night. But that was exactly what it felt like. It really was. In any case, Mr Mishustin and I sometimes discussed the situation well after midnight.

There have certainly been some drawbacks too, and we talked about them more than once. I am sure that you have drawn all the necessary conclusions. But the overwhelming majority of our colleagues, I would like to emphasise this, have demonstrated great capacity for work, managerial efficiency and competence.

We have been working in this composition for less than a year. However, all in all, we have managed to do a lot during this fairly short time. We have a mutual understanding and an understanding of where to go. We also have a team spirit and thanks to the team work we were able to do a lot to cushion the negative effects of the epidemic and help those who faced special difficulties. They included, as we initially decided, families with children and people who were temporarily out of work. We also had to help the affected economic sectors, enterprises, small companies, individual entrepreneurs and self-employed persons.

Notwithstanding all these difficulties, we provided for the stability and sustainability of microeconomic indexes, continued the implementation of meaningful infrastructure projects and created new incentives for the support of housing construction. We granted a 6.5 percent mortgage loan – which both helped people and supported the construction. We have also devised some instruments to expedite development of tourism, which generally work. They need to be further developed, of course, as is obvious. Yet, the way for the sector’s development and support has been found, on the whole.

We have prevented a critical recession, which would have thrown our economy far back, this is also an absolutely evident thing, and we were able to preserve our leading sectors; not just preserve – we developed certain systemic support measures for practically every sector. And the main thing is that we have managed to solve the issue of protecting people. I will not name them all, but we have taken many measures.

I want to say thank you to all my colleagues and the Prime Minister, his deputies, heads of ministries and departments, our big teams and the Government staff.

I am sure that the trials that we had – and these were real trials not only for the country, but also for the Government team – pulled us all together, toughened us and, of course, strengthened our common and your professional potential. This is because, on facing any problems and solving them, people must improve and work on themselves. We, and no doubt, I am sure you feel this too, have expanded our practical experience and learned how to do many things even better and more efficiently, than we probably thought possible earlier.

First of all, the speed of decision-making has increased. It was necessary, and it has been done. You caught the global technology wave and started using cutting-edge innovations, including artificial intelligence algorithms, more intensively. A remote mechanism to provide a number of public services and support for citizens has been built with their use. People can already feel this, I see it. This also includes organising direct payments for families with children.

All the accumulated experience, as well as the lessons taught from existing problems, must be considered and used in the current, everyday work and to address key tasks of the upcoming year in order to make headway in countering the epidemic and also significantly strengthen primary healthcare. We will launch this comprehensive effort on January 1. It is necessary to fully restore the economy, employment, as we have agreed, and I would like to ask you not to put this off; it is necessary to create conditions, as soon as possible, for increasing people’s incomes.

Keep in mind that, of course, people are hoping and waiting for changes for the better. They assess the work of the Government, and of course, the authorities in general by what is actually going on in their everyday life, the quality of medical care, the chances of finding employment in their home town or village, and whether there is enough money to buy children clothes and shoes and give them a good future.

We will have to act as composed and responsibly as possible, without blaming our mishaps and mistakes on the difficulties of the current moment, and fight to achieve tangible positive changes in the lives of Russian families.

We also have to switch from anti-crisis measures to a strategic agenda as quickly as possible. Moreover, trials and difficulties always open up new opportunities for development, as we have acknowledged many times. As a matter of fact, this is exactly what happens: look at the current statistics, it is completely obvious. What we discussed mostly theoretically is in demand today and makes us move faster. This concerns online education, the services provided in electronic form and much more.

Yesterday at the joint meeting of the State Council and the Council for Strategic Development, we agreed to set more ambitious goals in several areas of the integrated plan to achieve the national goals. By the way, this is not only about indicators but also about calculating the baseline from which we will proceed. I said this yesterday, and I hope that you heard me correctly. We have to act so that all our actions meet people’s demands and are consistent with the historical role of Russia, as I said yesterday.

No matter how difficult it may be today, in the next few years we must accomplish a lot more. We will have to make a real breakthrough, primarily in the areas that directly determine people’s welfare and self-fulfilment. It is necessary to ensure dynamic, confident national development in the 21st century.

Ambitious tasks always – I think you will agree with me on this point – when we encounter major tasks, they are bound to stir our emotions and inspire us; they require new approaches and solutions. Let me repeat what I said at our first meeting on January 21: you have everything you need to achieve national goals without fail.

I am sure you will continue cooperating with the regions and municipalities, the business community and non-profit organisations, and will undoubtedly rely on the support of our citizens. This is because trust is the most important and valuable asset at every level of management. We must value it.

Of course, I would like to thank you again for your work and wish you – this is topical now – good health, happiness, and all the best. I wish wellbeing for you and your families and friends.

Happy upcoming New Year.

Mr Mishustin, go ahead please.

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin: Mr President,

First of all, I would like to thank you for these greetings on behalf all Government members and me personally. I would also like to thank you for your assessment of the performance of our team, the Government.

Your support helps us resolve our tasks and achieve results. You have placed high trust in us and the Government will do all it can to measure up to your trust so that our people can feel the unwavering attention of the state and receive the assistance they need in any situation.

Using this opportunity, I would also like to wish you from all of us and myself personally happy upcoming holidays, the New Year and Christmas, and wish you all the best. I would like to tell you that we will try to carry out all our tasks: fulfil the national goals and the assignments you give us. Thank you for offering a helpful hand to all Government members in this regard. You helped us in the most difficult times and we thank you for this. Happy holidays! Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: I would like to remind you that we are working in a continuous cycle. It is clear that all of you enjoy a festive home environment, as I hope. You will relax and see the New Year in. But, as you know, the situation is not easy. Therefore I rely on you being always ready and able to join the work whenever needed.

I wish you all the best things in the year ahead.

Thank you very much. Goodbye, all the best to you.

Mikhail Mishustin: Thank you.

December 24, 2020, Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region