Mr. Volodin underscored the importance of this meeting ahead of the address, saying it wasn’t a coincidence. He reminded the assembled trustees that the address would be the first one since Vladimir Putin’s re-election in March 2012. “This address will concern not only the outgoing year but the entire presidential term,” Vyacheslav Volodin stressed.
On December 10, President Putin is to meet the 500 trustees he appointed while still on the campaign trail. These are people from all walks of life, members of non-profit organizations and artists guilds.
The people’s representatives were given an opportunity to cooperate with Kremlin and government top officials in seven major spheres that are symbolically reminiscent of the seven key concepts laid down in Putin’s articles published during his 2012 presidential campaign, Volodin said.
The board of presidential trustees is expected to become a permanent one to serve as a link between the people and the head of state.
President Putin pointed out that since he ran for president in 2012, he set forth many of his ideas in a spate of articles he had written ahead of the election.
“Still, an address is an address, and it should be written and read out,” Putin said.
December 12 will see one of the most awaited events of the outgoing year in Russia. President Vladimir Putin will deliver his first annual address to the Federal Assembly since his return to the Kremlin.
The anti-corruption struggle, the socio-economic strategy, political freedoms, international challenges, internal security – these issues worry millions of Russians and may be reflected in some form or another in the presidential address. Voice of Russia experts are pondering on what kind of priorities Vladimir Putin will set forth tomorrow.
The president’s annual message to parliament as a form of communication between the executive and legislative branches of power is an almost two-decade-long tradition in Russia. This is a programmatic document in which the head of state airs his vision of national development trends for a long perspective.
Alexei Zudin, deputy head of the Center for Political Conjuncture, thinks that emphasis will be on anti-corruption struggle and political reform.
"As these are extremely important issues, it is safe to presume that improving the political system and combatting corruption will be given primary attention. As for foreign policy priorities, I don’t think that there will be any change. They have been outlined in a series of Vladimir Putin’s pre-election articles. Relations with Russia’s closest neighbors are moving to the foreground, Europe is another priority, the Asian direction is becoming increasingly important, and finally, relations with the United States are no less significant."
In the domestic policy, experts point out that the government has become more open and more willing to step up contacts with civic society institutes contrary to expectations that it would “tighten the screws”, following the adoption of a number of new laws, among them a law that restricts financial aid from abroad to noncommercial organizations.
Nikolai Mironov of the Institute of Priority Regional Projects believes that Putin’s message to parliament will be a complex one.
"It will fit into the context of Putin’s socio-economic and political program he announced after taking office on May 7 by issuing a large set of decrees on long-term social economic policy, education, military reform, better state governance, and others. Political modernization will be a key topic focused on the past regional elections and the party system reform. Priorities for the coming years will be designated. And of course, there is the corruption problem."
On the economic plane, Putin is expected to dwell much on easing dependence on raw materials exports, building an innovative economy, modernizing the taxation system and improving budget policy. The social agenda is likely to be dominated by the demographic strategy and pension reform.
Mikhail Remizov of the National Strategy Institute says that it’s important for the president to show that he has not forgotten his pre-election promises.
"First, this is a decisive campaign against corruption, or rather an attempt to discipline the upper power echelons. The president is signaling that this is a process that can be controlled in order maintain control. As regards political reforms, the Kremlin has softened its line towards the opposition. The opposition has ceased to be dangerous. True, some protest moods remain, but they are not represented by major political forces."
Although unlikely to contain too radical or too unexpected ideas, for Vladimir Putin has repeatedly proclaimed himself a supporter of evolutionary development, his message to parliament will probably focus on trends that have been largely overlooked before.