Russia President Vladimir Putin delivers his annual address to Russian Parliament on Wednesday as his approval ratings near low record.
The speech will focus on internal economic and social development, especially the “national projects” in education, housing, agriculture, and health care.
He starts his speech with a clear focus on domestic issues and says the goal of his programmes is to “protect people”.
In terms of family programmes, he said the government will do everything to strengthen the family.
Putin is also addressing state policy on payments and benefits to mothers who have more than one child. He said that mothers earning up to two more times “the bare minimum” should be eligible for subsidies for having children.
Putin said that many of those living in poverty are pensioners, broken families, families with many children, and families with a seriously ill family member.
Pensions must be at least the same as the poverty line with additional benefits.
Putin says that many citizens are not satisfied with their access to medical facilities, particularly in remote locations.
He says that medical care must be available in every town by the end of 2020 and calls for the modernization of medical centres.
Addresses issue of overflowing landfills located near residential areas and calls for National Front Movement to enact a “public control” over waste disposal.
Putin said that all urban landfills should be eliminated within the next six years and called for more environmentally sensitive incineration plants.
Putin says the best way to overcome poverty is to increase the rate of economic growth.
He said that Russia’s economic reserves are bigger than its debts (national and commercial) for the first time in history.
Putin wants to create a “powerful scientific-technological foundation” to boost the economy and called for investments in private start-ups.
“All our legislation must be based on the new technological environment,” he said.
As for the investment climate, Putin said that “honest businessmen shouldn’t go around being afraid of criminal prosecution”. The comment comes less than a week after one of Russia’s best known foreign investment managers was thrown into jail.
Opposition leader Aleksei Navalny weighs in on Putin’s annual address by saying that last year’s crowd preferred the “cartoons about the rockets” more than domestic issues.
“They don’t applaud well this time round. Putin has been reading his address for 20 minutes but there’s not a single stand up ovation. Last time when they showed the animated cartoons on missiles, the audience liked it more.”
Putin praised his relations with many countries, highlighting his cooperation with China, India, Japan and said he hoped to restore relations with the European Union.
However, relations with the US remained on weaker ground.
Putin criticised the US for withdrawing from the INF Treaty, saying the accusations that Russia violated the treaty were made to cover up the fact they wanted to withdraw from the treaty.
He added that if the US deploys intermediate-range missiles in Europe, the country will take measures to both threaten the territories were the missiles are deployed and target the places where the use of the weapons is decided.
He said the US ignores Russia’s “legitimate interests” and keeps on organising “anti-Russian activities” such as illegal economic sanctions and noted that Russia is a no threat to the US and wants to build a friendly relationship based on mutual respect.
“We are not interested in confrontation and do not seek it,” he said.
He added that Russia will guarantee the country’s security.
Putin announced that Russia will deploy this spring its first submarine equipped with a nuclear-powered undersea drone.
Euronews correspondent Galina Polonskaya had more details on his speech.