14 march, 2011 13:00  

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin gives a news conference during his working visit to the Tomsk Region


Question: Mr Putin, we have a question for you regarding yesterday’s events. We would like to know your opinion of how United Russia acted at yesterday’s elections and, if possible, we would like to know whether you plan to lead the party roster at the Duma elections?

Vladimir Putin: It is too early to speak about the Duma elections: they will be held in December, as you know. I will discuss it with my colleagues.

As for yesterday’s elections and their results, I believe they are more than satisfactory for United Russia. First, United Russia won in all regions where elections were held and is the leading political force in these regions. That is the first thing.

Second, United Russia received quite a high number of votes even in regions where it has never been popular, such as the Kirov Region, where it received 36.7% of votes compared to 25% at similar elections last year. So, the growth is obvious here. The number of votes dropped a bit – by about 1% – in some regions. However, I think this was not the result of systemic problems but rather of a lack of coordination in United Russia itself. Nothing out of the ordinary here: to get positive results, party members have to improve their image and the choice of candidates and think more about the people and their needs.

What would I like to underscore? Compared, for example, with the year 2007, which was quite a good one for the country’s social and economic development and for the social welfare of the people, yesterday’s elections were held in an atmosphere still pervaded by the crisis we have only recently overcome – the global economic crisis that affected our country and its people. Many of our people suffered from the effects of the crisis: the rise in unemployment and salary cuts. Still, support for United Russia was even higher than at the 2007 elections. Votes in those regions in which the elections were held totaled 46.2% this year compared to about 46% in 2007. This margin is small, but it is still growth, which shows people’s confidence in the party's management of the crisis and means that, despite their weariness and the many problems they face, people have responded positively to the actions of the authorities and have expressed with their votes the hope that the situation will change for the better.

Undoubtedly, United Russia has to increase its efforts and do everything possible to ensure a better life for the Russian people; I mean here all our people regardless of their political views.

Question: Could you, please, tell us about the risks of the nuclear disaster in Japan, and, thus, the danger for Russia? Is the Russian government going to change its plans regarding the development of the nuclear industry after the events in Japan?

Vladimir Putin: No, we are not going to change our plans. We will, of course, consider current events in Japan. Our specialists are in close contact with their Japanese partners. We know what is going on there. Judging by the information we’ve got, our specialists are sure there is no danger for Russia. That is the first thing.

Second, our experts believe that a nuclear explosion, which could destroy the reactor and its shell, will not occur – again, judging by the data we’ve got. I have just talked with Mr Medvedev: he has the situation under control. He has just talked with the prime minister of Japan. It would be great, of course, if our specialists could work with their Japanese colleagues right on the site of the accident. Still, proceeding from the information we possess, we do not see a global danger in this accident.

However, we will continue monitoring the situation. As you know, the Ministry of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Relief, the Federal Agency for Atomic Energy and regional leaders were instructed to look into the matter and, if necessary, use all available resources to avert the danger for our country.