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Dmitry Medvedevs Article, Go Russia! (September 10, 2009)

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Confronting the Challenges

Democracy needs to be protected. The fundamental rights and freedoms of our citizens must be as well. They need to be protected primarily from the sort of corruption that breeds tyranny, lack of freedom and injustice. We have just begun to develop such protective mechanisms. Our judicial system must be a central component here. We have to create a modern efficient judiciary, acting in accordance with new legislation on the judicial system and based on contemporary legal principles. We also have to rid ourselves of the contempt for law and justice, which, as I've said repeatedly, has lamentably become a tradition in this country. But the formation of a new judicial system cannot be achieved by competitions or campaigns, or idle talk about how the system itself is rotten and that it would be easier to create new judicial and law enforcement systems than to change them. There are no entirely new judges, just as there are no new public prosecutors, police, intelligence personnel, civil servants, businessmen and so on. We need to create normal working conditions for the law enforcement agencies and get rid of the imposters once and for all. We have to teach law enforcement officers to protect and defend rights and freedoms, to justly, clearly and effectively resolve conflicts in the legal field. We need to eliminate attempts to influence judicial decisions for whatever reasons. Ultimately, the judicial system itself has to understand the difference between what it means to act in the public interest or in the selfish interests of a corrupt bureaucrat or businessman. We need to cultivate a taste for the rule of law, for abiding by the law, respect for the rights of others, including such important rights as that of property ownership. It is the job of the courts with broad public support to cleanse the country of corruption. This is a difficult task but it is doable. Other countries have succeeded in doing this.

We will do everything possible to allow the people in Russia's Caucasus to lead normal lives. Economic and humanitarian programmes for the south of the country will soon be reviewed and fleshed out. We will set up some very clear criteria to assess the performance of heads of governmental structures dealing with the Caucasus. This applies primarily to federal and regional ministries and departments responsible for policy in industrial production, finance, social development, education and culture. At the same time, law enforcement authorities will continue to stamp out the bandits who seek to intimidate and terrorise the population of some Caucasian republics with their crazy ideas and barbaric customs.

Negative demographic trends must be slowed and stopped. We need to improve the quality of medical care, promote fertility, ensure safety on the road and in the workplace, combat the pandemic of alcoholism and develop physical culture and mass sport. This requires both a strategic approach and making such things the everyday tasks of the government.

Whatever the scope or effects of these transformations, their goal is ultimately the same, improving the quality of life in Russia. Creating better conditions by providing citizens with housing, employment, medical care, care of pensioners, protection of children, and support for people with disabilities -- these are the duties of the authorities at all levels.

Russian politicians often remind us that, under our Constitution, Russia is a welfare state. This is true, but we must not forget that the modern welfare state is not some kind of bloated Soviet social security system, and benefits are not distributed from the sky. A welfare state is a complex, balanced system of economic incentives and social benefits, legal, ethical and behavioural standards, a system whose productivity crucially depends on the quality of work and level of training of every one of us.

Whatever is distributed to society by government should only be what it has earned. Living beyond our means is immoral, unwise and dangerous. We need to make the economic system more productive so that we can earn more. Not just wait for the oil price rising at a given moment we've got to earn our way.

We will improve the efficiency of social services in all spheres, paying special attention to problems of material and medical support for veterans and pensioners.

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