Working Day

5 may, 2012 19:06

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin holds a meeting of the Government’s Coordinating Council for Veteran Affairs

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin holds a meeting of the Government’s Coordinating Council for Veteran Affairs
“The attention of society, youth organisations and authorities of all levels is extremely important for the older generation, and I’d like you always to remember this.”
Vladimir Putin
At a meeting of the Government’s Coordinating Council for Veteran Affairs


Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,

We are meeting on the eve of May 9 to discuss veteran-related issues and better ways to resolve them.

Unfortunately, I have to begin with a tragic event. As you know, on May 3, an act of terrorism was committed in Makhachkala that killed and wounded many people. Dagestan has declared today a day of mourning, and I’d like to ask you to honour the memory of the victims.

(Everybody stands up for a minute of silence.)

Thank you.

Needless to say, in line with the law, the government will allocate the necessary resources to support the people affected. The families of the deceased will receive one million roubles each; those with serious injuries 400,000 roubles; and those who suffered minor injuries 200,000 roubles.

Now let’s return to our agenda for today. As part of the meeting of the Government’s Coordinating Council for Veteran Affairs, we must discuss ways of making medical aid to veterans and other elderly people more effective. We will also talk in principle about issues of medical and legal assistance, as well as pensions, social payments and social support in general, including discounted utility service rates.

As you are aware, over the last few years the veterans of the Great Patriotic War have been offered priority housing – I’m referring to those veterans who need better housing conditions. About 200,000 of them have seen an improvement in their housing conditions. We will continue this programme by all means and have allocated 24.3 billion roubles to it for this year.

As I have mentioned, 200,000 veterans have received flats. Some 39,000 are still on the waiting list, as we’ve decided not to restrict anyone who is entitled to better housing conditions. The number of applicants is constantly growing. Over the last year, we saw a certain increase as well. I hope we’ll resolve this issue in the near future by providing better housing to all those who need it.

It goes without saying that we’ll focus on providing veterans with medical and pharmaceutical supplies. We know about the existing problems and are trying to resolve them step by step. Thus, we have included 46 out of 64 operating hospitals for veterans of the Great Patriotic War – indeed, for veterans of all wars - into the regional healthcare modernisation programmes. They are currently undergoing major repairs and are being equipped with the latest medical equipment.

A number of steps have been taken with regard to pharmaceutical support. This is an urgent issue. Since last year, pensioners with chronic diseases have been receiving three-month medical prescriptions. They no longer have to go to polyclinics and waste their times in queues.

Needless to say, getting hold of prescriptions must be made easier. We are looking into telephone orders, home delivery and increasing the number of social and on-duty pharmacies. I hope that our regional colleagues will develop these ideas and put them into action.

We need to pay special attention to rural areas. Those villages that for various reasons do not have pharmacies are now allowed to issue medicines via local health posts. I’d like to ask the Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development to establish the permanent monitoring of pharmaceutical provisions to rural residents. If necessary, regions should be provided with advisory support to organise this work.

Today, I’d also like to touch on the sensitive issue of pharmaceuticals at discounted prices. We are allocating substantial budget funds to this area as compared with measly amounts just several years ago. Ms Golikova, do you remember how much it was?

Tatyana Golikova: Up to 5 billion.

Vladimir Putin: That’s what we used to allocate for these purposes. In 2011, we allocated 122 billion roubles, of which about 80% come from the federal budget. I’d like to note that once these funds are allocated, the federal budget transfers them to the regions, who then organise tenders, purchases and distribution.

Of course, there are delays and ineffectiveness in supplies. Clearly, we must improve the current procedures for state and municipal orders for medical deliveries. I hope that regional authorities will concentrate on this issue and that the Government will guarantee the transparency of all relevant procedures. The Government will be following up on the implementation and compliance with applicable legislation. We will continue improving our legislation and encouraging the development of the pharmaceutical industry. We have drafted a federal targeted programme that will receive about 124-125 billion roubles for the next few years to step up the development of the domestic pharmaceutical industry.

I believe we must establish public control over the developments in the sphere of pharmaceutical provisions, in particular, by your organisations. Therefore, I suggest that regional councils for veteran affairs should discuss key issues of medical and pharmaceutical provision with regional governors. I will recommend that the governors involve your organisations in this work.

There is one more item on our agenda – to support voluntary organisations  and community groups who are implementing important social initiatives. As a rule, these groups are made up of young people who are concerned about the older generation, our veterans, the people who have done a lot for our country, who have given their strength and their health and now need support both from the state and from the local community. We are glad that the number of these young people who are worried about the problems of our veterans is growing. We will support them at the regional and federal levels, we will improve the legislative and regulatory framework so that their work is integrated within the legal framework and they can feel support from all levels of government, from the municipalities to the federal authorities. 

That's what I wanted to say to start with. Let's get down to work. I would like to give the floor to Ms Golikova so that she can brief us on how the situation on providing medical care and medicines to veterans and the elderly is improving. Ms Golikova, please, go ahead.

Tatyana Golikova: Mr Putin, colleagues, for the sake of convenience, you have before you a presentation with the same title as the issue which I’ll report on now. But before moving on to the issues of  providing medical services and medicines, I’d first like to say a few words about the current demographic situation in Russia.

If we take the 10-year forecast to 2020, we can see that the population of Russia will grow by 1.8% compared to January 1, 2011, the number of people below working age will grow by 16%. The above working age population  (that means women over the age of 55 and men over 60), is projected to increase by 21.4%.

In the last decade, the number of people in the 65-70 age group fell by 3.7%, and the number of people of over 70 increased. On the one hand, this is a positive trend indicating increased longevity; on the other hand this places greater pressure on the organisations that provide healthcare, medicines and social security to these sectors of the population. 

Our esteemed veterans of the Great Patriotic War and the groups supported by the Law On Veterans numbered 3.4 million as of January 1, 2012. Unfortunately, this group is decreasing; in 2011 there were almost 136,000 deaths in this group.

In terms of the distribution of veterans in Russia, the highest number of war veterans live in the Volga, Central and Northwestern federal districts.

In terms of their age, 32.3% of them are over 85. Moreover, Mr Putin, 503 veterans are over 100 years old, and there's a veteran who lives in the Republic of Dagestan who will celebrate his 116th birthday on July 1, 2012; so the 21st century is his third century. 

Now, pensions are the key component of social security provision. Pension provision for this group is without doubt higher than the average work pension. Today, the average pension for  Great Patriotic War invalids is by 140% higher than the average work pension, and for people awarded the Resident of Blockaded Leningrad badge and servicemen’s widows it's almost 80% higher, and for veterans of the Great Patriotic War it's 44% higher. In addition, this group receives an extra benefit in the form of a lump sum cash payment which varies between 1,151 roubles and 3,834 roubles for disabled veterans as of April 1, 2012. 

So today the total income, including pension and lump sum benefit, for disabled Great Patriotic War veterans and participants is almost 30,000 roubles, the total income of participants who are not invalids and the widows of servicemen is around 20,000 roubles.

In terms of trends, since the end of 2007 the total funding for these payments has gone up by 110% - 120%. This is doubtlessly down to priority rate indexation of these payments and changes in the pension law in particular, and the valorisation of pension accruals that have taken place in recent years. 

The leading diseases in this group of  veterans as well as among the elderly in general are cardiovascular diseases, which is the same for the population of Russia overall, followed by ophthalmic and respiratory diseases. 

We don't yet have the final data for this group for 2011, however  in 2010 there was a fall in the number of deaths from bronchial and lung diseases, from external causes, from endocrine diseases and tumours.

Now to organising help for veterans and the elderly. This is an extremely sensitive issue, because under the law the Russian regions are obliged to provide an adequate level of care and assistance to people with chronic diseases requiring supportive treatment.

Today in the Russian regions there are 15 nursing homes, 21 hospices, while permanent healthcare institutions have 21,000 nursing care beds and almost 2,000 hospice beds. But currently the constituent territories of the Russian Federation are not providing an adequate level of this kind of assistance, which is why the veterans' organisations (we discussed this ahead of this conference) are requesting that this group should be extended as a priority medical and home social and rehabilitation services. I believe this is possible and regional officials are taking action to make sure this happens. Naturally, the key aspect is sorting out payment for the home medical care. A Government resolution would be enough and it will be drafted in order for this type of home health care to be paid for out of the funds for the government programme on guaranteed and free medical assistance.

As regards regulatory provision of medical care, the duty of regional officials and, consequently also of medical staff, is to conduct a thorough medical examination which involves medical specialists. The clinical diagnosis becomes the basis for an individual plan of treatment and follow-up care. There is a requirement for a regular check-up conducted by a nurse at a local clinic every three months and an additional examination every six months. Naturally, these categories of patients are eligible for free medication, which must be provided in accordance with federal and regional legislation.

As you said, a modernisation programme is being implemented to improve supplies to healthcare facilities and ensure that assistance is directly available to those who need it.

I should mention that major renovation has now been completed in three hospitals in the Ryazan Region, the Republic of Karelia and the Republic of Mordovia. Renovations are continuing at two hospitals in the Penza Region. As of today, medical equipment has been fully provided in 3 out of the 12 hospitals included in the scheme, which are hospitals in the Ryazan and Smolensk Regions and the Republic of Bashkortostan.

I have mentioned follow-up checks and comprehensive medical examinations. As I said, the law requires such checks to be conducted annually. This is what must be done according to law. In fact, the examinations are conducted based on actual demand. I should mention here that not all veterans and veterans with disabilities request examinations. In 2011, out of those who requested it, nearly 88% underwent a medical check-up. For those who did not request a check-up, I think this is an issue the regional officials should look into.

We compared the Pension Fund records of the Great Patriotic War veterans and veterans with disabilities with the medical statistics provided by the regions, that's the data on those who underwent medical checks. About 60% of those people underwent a follow-up medical check as specified in the law. Obviously, the rest were not examined either because they did not request a check or because they were not available everywhere in the regions.

We believe that the medical and social care services should be instructed to monitor the situation and, where required, conduct medical examinations of those veterans who are not on the records.

The leading regions in this respect are the Saratov and Tambov Regions, the Republics of Adygeya and Ingushetia, the Penza, Ulyanovsk, Kemerov, Magadan, and Samara Regions, the Chukotka Autonomous Area, the Republic of Chuvashia, the Rostov Region, the Republic of Bashkortostan and the Voronezh Region.

One more aspect that is now regulated by law is health resort treatment for veterans and the elderly. The law stipulates that the citizens eligible for this benefit can choose between money and vouchers. There are 416,000 disabled people and veterans of the Great Patriotic War who are eligible for health resort treatment vouchers, but the actual number of those who requests vouchers is only 50,600. Unfortunately, I have to admit that vouchers are not available to everyone even though this is a priority category of citizens. According to the data for 2011, health resort treatment was provided to 58% of those who requested it.

In your introductory remarks, you mentioned the issue of pharmaceutical benefits. I would like to note three particular aspects that seem most important. Today, as you have mentioned, pharmaceutical benefits are provided by transferring funds to Russia’s regions, which then purchases and organise the provision of medications directly in their territories, using their authority.

Each month, the sum of 918 roubles per person is allocated from the federal budget to Russia’s regions as standard financial expenses, totalling up to 44 billion roubles per year.

Regarding this kind of financial support in the regions, unfortunately, this amount exceeds Russia’s average only in several regions, and on average financial support totals only some 180 roubles per person. This drastic disparity results in a considerable gap between federal and regional pharmaceutical benefits.  

To address this, our ministry together with the Ministry of Finance and regional healthcare and financial bodies has completed a revision on your instructions. The revision has revealed that the regions lack registers of benefit recipients, or those entitled to benefits, for groups of citizens that fall within the jurisdiction of Russia’s entities. So, now it is vitally important for them to develop and draw up a register of those who need the benefits in order to determine the requisite level of funding.

The next step should be the issue of financial support and amending the current Resolution No. 890, On Pharmaceutical Support for Citizens in Russia’s Entities, issued in 1993. This is the work we have to finalise together with the regions in 2012 so that people in Russia’s regions who are in need of this support receive it in full.

Another issue that concerns pharmaceutical support, which you have mentioned, is the availability of pharmacies or medical institutions that are licensed dispensaries and can sell medications to our residents.

Here, I would like to note that we have an average of 44 pharmacies for each 100,000 residents. The highest number is in the Bryansk, Vladimir and Amur regions and the Khabarovsk Territory. Unfortunately, the situation is more difficult in the Chechen Republic, the Republic of Dagestan, the Republic of Khakassia and the Magadan Region, which still have to solve this issue.

Another problem, which is a matter of concern for our residents as well for the group of citizens we are speaking about today, is reasonable prices for medications. On April 1, 2010 we started to record the prices for life-saving and essential medications and overall managed to stop the considerable price increase that was observed in 2009.

Speaking of 2011, the monitoring data revealed that medication prices increased by 2.17 percent, which is lower than the growth rate of consumer prices. This is mostly linked to the indexation of prices for essential medications in accordance with the corresponding inflation rate.

In conclusion, I would like to say the following. The key task for us now is to adopt a law that needed to be revised for a long time now. I am speaking of the law on social services for citizens, which regulates the procedure of rendering services to all residents – not only those that are found in difficult life situations, but also those we are speaking about now. This law is similar to the one we adopted regarding protection of citizens’ health, which regulates all issues related to services, standards, the provision of such services and so forth.

Since 2011, this draft law has been discussed at all levels. At the end the last year, we finished discussing it together with the Public Opinion Foundation. Last week, we discussed it with members of public organisations, as well as the State Duma and Federation Council. The draft law is being finalised at the moment and has been officially put online on our ministry’s website. In June, we plan to submit it to the Russian government for consideration, and then we will submit it to the parliament.

Adopting this law will allow us to define mechanisms in social policy that will help these groups of citizens by resolving legal issues, including the imbalances in social services found in different regions.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.

Let's hear from Artur Savelov, and then we'll have a free-form discussion.

The floor is yours.

Artur Savelov (president of the independent non-profit organisation Moscow Student Centre, chairman of the educational vice-rectors of higher educational institutions and vocational schools): Mr Putin, members of the coordinating council,  you can find the slides of my presentation in the handout.

It is my great honour to report the results of the volunteer movement in support of senior citizens at the meeting of the Coordinating Council for Veterans' Affairs under the Government of the Russian Federation.

I head the student centre in Moscow, which has been in operation for 12 years, covering more than 250 leading universities through its activities. The centre was among the first organisations, along with the Coordinating Council at the Presidium of the General Council of the United Russia party, to have established the From Students to Senior Citizens programme, in collaboration with the senior citizens' associations and the council of educational vice-rectors of higher educational institutions and vocational schools. Student volunteers from more than 300 Russian universities, along with students from other educational institutions, have joined the programme. In early 2012 in Russia, out of 3 million young people, there are more than one million volunteers who are actively involved in programmes to support senior citizens, including our programme.

The development of volunteer programmes has huge educational potential, which is now in the spotlight. There are regions, such as the Sverdlovsk region, where the number of volunteers has reached 52,000. In many regions of the Russian Federation, volunteers are gathering in continuously operating communities. For example, the Belgorod region has 52 volunteer student teams and 153 volunteer youth associations.

Volunteers receive extensive training. Thirty-six constituent entities of  Russia have developed territorial, regional and municipal volunteer centres, which have the following tasks: creating conditions for the involvement of youth and students in the volunteer movement, facilitating the formation of activism, training participants in the volunteer movement and raising awareness.

It is important to note that the interests of volunteers and the authorities are in alignment, and they communicate appropriately. Thirty-one constituent entities have adopted regional laws and regulations, as well as programmes for support and development of the volunteer movement. Thirty-four constituent entities have included activities for the development of youth volunteering in regional programmes.

Moscow's experience in this regard is also noteworthy. Accordingly, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin supported the Moscow Students programme in 2011 by providing a grant in a separate line item in the city's budget for 2012-2014.

You can read about the programmes' coverage in the centre's booklet, also included in the handout.

Another example. In the Yaroslavl Region, volunteer associations are participating in the regional programme Social Support for Senior Citizens in the Yaroslavl Region for 2011-2013. As a result, the programme has repaired about 1,500 square meters of residential housing.

I would like to elaborate on the “From Students to Senior Citizens” programme. Four projects are being implemented as part of the programme.

The first project is entitled Emergency Social Assistance. During the course of this project, over 114,000 volunteers have helped 798,000 people.

The second project is Legal Clinics. Over 4,500 students have provided legal assistance to nearly 300,000 people.

The third project is Improving Computer Literacy, through which 3,100 volunteers trained more than 112,000 senior citizens.

And the last project is Memorial Lessons. The project has more than 65,000 volunteers covering two million people.

A few more details on some projects.

The first – Emergency Social Assistance – aims to provide social and legal assistance via students of the social sciences to retirees and elderly people living alone in rural areas. In 2012, targeted assistance was rendered for senior citizens in 57 regions of Russia. Mobile teams go to the villages and assist with housekeeping, leisure time activities and the upkeep of war graves. They also support nursing home residents.

The Legal Clinics project provides free legal counselling and assistance in improving the legal culture of senior citizens by students, future lawyers. The project is currently being implemented in 13 regions of Russia.

The project Improving Computer Literacy aims to help students organise activities to train the elderly to use computers. There are volunteers in 31 regions of Russia participating in the project. For example, ten computer classes were established in 2011 in the Krasnoyarsk Territory. Twenty more are planned for 2012. The programme trains more than 16,000 senior citizens.

Through the Memorial Lessons programme, students help veterans and their families. Volunteers organise meetings with veterans and create video and photo archives, give tours, hold memorial events, help the needy at home and work on landscaping and maintenance of monuments and military cemeteries. For example, the programme helped renovate 635 apartments in the Chelyabinsk Region. Some 945 monuments and war grave sites were fixed up in the Kursk region in 2011.

The “Thank You For Victory” campaign, which was developed jointly with the Committee of War and Military Service Veterans on the Moscow Battle’s sixty-fifth anniversary, has grown in scale and spread to the regions in recent years. Students have been placing congratulatory stickers on entrance hall doors in the run-up to Victory Day. Stickers have also been placed on personal cars for several years now. Our handouts also include a sticker issued in 2006 -- the first edition.

The volunteer movement in Russia has expanded. New young forces and youths have joined. However, despite its active development and the Ministry of Sports, Tourism and Youth Policy’s efforts, there is a need to more deeply systematise cooperation between the authorities and the organisations. A number of issues can only be resolved by adopting legislative acts embracing all spheres of volunteer activity.

I am convinced that adopting a law on volunteering at the federal or regional level will make more system-wide the volunteer movement’s conceptual structure. It will also introduce common principles and standards for organising and performing volunteer activities in all of Russia’s regions.

In conclusion, I would like to congratulate you, Mr Putin, and all of the council’s members on the Popular Front’s first anniversary. On May 6, you came up with the idea of its establishment and tomorrow I would like to invite you, Mr Putin, and all of those present, to Victory Park on Poklonnaya Hill. The Moscow Student Centre, a member of the front, has organised celebrations for all of Moscow’s residents and for guests on this occasion.

Thank you for your attention.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you. Indeed, the front will turn one year old tomorrow. I would like to thank you and many of those present, as you head organisations that have directly participated in the Popular Front’s activities in this or that way. I hope that this will remain a sound consolidating platform in the future.

Thank you very much.

Let’s have a discussion. Are there any ideas, remarks, proposals?

Frants Klintsevich (deputy chairman of the State Duma Defence Committee, leader of the Russian Union of Afghan War Veterans): With regard to the issues that we are discussing, Mr Putin, I believe that providing medicine is the most sensitive. We have a problem. Almost all of us who represent regional and national organisations receive information from below. As for the federal centre, there are almost no breakdowns. You and the officials say that the funds have been allocated. However, there are always problems with implementing programmes locally. I think that in some operative part… Today, there are governors here whose example we should follow.

Mr Putin, Ms Golikova spoke today about the equipment that the federal centre supplied to healthcare institutions. I can say that there are regions where such equipment has not been used for years, as there aren’t sufficient funds to put it into operation. There is no doubt that this makes people annoyed and even offended by the authorities and the system.

Second, it’s very important that we understand that the regions have abusive practices while distributing expensive medicine. I don’t know how to combat this. The Ministry of Healthcare can’t do that. But people have not been able to receive this or the other medicine for years. They have been told that they should pay money and a certain amount is set. Undoubtedly, this gives rise to serious concern. I think that we should pay more attention to such issues.

Mr Putin, I would also like to congratulate you today on the Popular Front’s anniversary. It has done a great deal, including in the social sphere, as many veteran organisations are members. We have implemented numerous regional programmes through the Popular Front, including in the election campaign. In this case, the Ministry of Healthcare has provided great assistance and support to us.

Mr Putin, people are asking a question. I am specifically referring to the Coordinating Council’s latest meeting, during which it was stated that the council would be established as a legal organisation. Today, Mr Savyolov said that an event will be held tomorrow on Poklonnaya Hill. Has the front been established formally? A public organisation is operating. However, journalists are not able to find out what will happen there. I don’t know myself. I can only say that an event will be held… I will attend it with my grandchildren. However, we will formally establish the Popular Front as a public venue for consolidation in the nearest future.

Vladimir Putin: As a public organisation. Agreed.

Frants Klintsevich: As a public organisation. 

Mr Putin, when we discuss the problems that have been noted today, the priority for Great Patriotic War veterans and indeed all veterans is certainly medical care. I am not mentioning the housing problem for combat veterans on purpose because I understand that this is a grave and insurmountable task. We have to solve the problems facing older veterans. Whereas medical care concerns everyone, this requires substantial support. The Ministry of Healthcare alone, in my mind, will not cope with this issue. They need the support of the local and regional authorities. Thank you. 

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much. Go ahead.

Vyacheslav Mikhailov (chairman of the Council of the Russian Centre of Social and Legal Aid to War Veterans and Disabled War Veterans): Mr Putin, I was pleased to hear both the first and the second reports. I would like to say briefly – the second speaker made an interesting report on students and the older generation.

I would make the following suggestion. Many public organisations are seriously engaged in this work, as well as students. Apparently, we need to get together to coordinate these activities, so that we are all taking aim at the same target together. I think that this problem should be noted in the resolution. 

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much. Yes, this is a good proposal, an accurate one.

Colleagues, does anyone want to say something else?

Go ahead.

Dmitry Karabanov: Thank you for giving me the floor. I would like to ask two very small questions.

It has already been noted that prescriptions can be written two months ahead of time. 

Vladimir Putin: Three months.

Dmitry Karabanov (chairman of the Council of the Russian Public Organisation of Veterans of War, Labour, Armed Forces, and Law Enforcement Agencies):  Initially, it was two months and now it is three.

No money is needed. Nothing is needed. Everyone knows that a patient should be in hospital, but he still must be examined by all of the doctors every month, he has to wait in line, etc. 

This issue should be resolved immediately. It should be solved quickly. And the second issue is pharmacies in rural areas. 

First of all, as you are all aware, rural administrative districts have been reduced by almost 80%. Thus, pharmacies were closed down, as were rural health posts.

I understand that setting up rural health posts swiftly is a complicated task, yet they must be established. Meanwhile, medicine needs to be sold quickly. It might be hard to move fast and to buy medicine in rural areas because there could be problems with the roads or other issues. 

That is, these are two issues that do not require much funding. They only require attention and they will be solved quickly. The older generation is sure to feel this immediately. 

Thank you. 

Vladimir Putin: I have already said that we have permitted selling medicine in rural health posts. Of course, this work and the operation of rural health posts should be improved, and other forms could be introduced. 

Yes, please.

Valery Ryazansky (chairman of the Federation Council’s Social Policy Committee, chairman of the Union of Russian Pensioners public organisation): Thank you. 

Mr Putin,  it would be wrong if I failed to note an issue that has started spreading around the country – children of war. As part of the Popular Front’s activities, we have received a number of appeals in this regard. 

We can see perfectly well that fully resolving this problem at the federal level will be tough. We could recommend within our Coordinating Council to use the experience of a number of regions in other locations – in Vologda, Tver, Perm, Volgograd, Tula, the Ulyanovsk Region, the Krasnoyarsk Territory, and the Chuvashia, Novosibirsk, Samara and Tomsk regions. In these areas, the regions somehow earmark this issue as a priority and remove some of the tension that has recently started to emerge. They have even established organisations bearing the same name. 

As I see it, the regions could be given recommendations. Maybe a meeting should be held dedicated to quelling the passions that have started to appear… Including the five draft laws submitted to the State Duma... I believe that we could provide recommendations to the regions this way.

Vladimir Putin: All right. Is that all?

We are about to mark the holiday, which is why I would like to congratulate all of you, first and foremost, on the coming celebration.

Second, I would like to say that the second topic noted by Mr Savyolov – the information that he presented – is as significant as the first set of issues. And there are many issues, concerning healthcare, residences and utilities and housing maintenance in a broader sense. However, caring for the people is often no less important than material conditions and resolving certain issues. 

There are a few depressing statistics. Ms Golikova has just given them to me, concerning the global suicide situation. I know from different sources that – however odd this might sound – the suicide rate is growing in well-to-do European countries. There are 31 suicides per every 1,000 residents in Korea, 24.4 in Japan, 21.9 in Slovenia, and France has seen a growth by 30% to 21.3. In Italy, the number is generally not so high, but there has also been a 110% increase. Of course, this is related to the crisis and to job losses, and so on. The suicide rate in the Russian Federation remains high at 18.4. But it is constantly decreasing. Last year and the year before, the suicide rate dropped 8.2%. And if we look month on month at the past year, then we see another 5.1% drop. This testifies primarily to the economic component and the unemployment level, which is decreasing in our country and has reached the pre-crisis level.  These are objective components. 

Speaking of the older generation, though, let me reiterate that attention and care are of the utmost importance from society as a whole, from youth organisations and from the authorities at all levels. And I ask you to never forget this. 

Thank you very much.