What Vladimir Putin said to the Federal Assembly The most important things summed up

12:30, 1 december 2016

Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev / Russian Presidential Press and Information Office / TASS / Scanpix / LETA

On December 1, 2016, Vladimir Putin held his annual address to Russia's Federal Assembly. Meduza summarizes his main thoughts.

This address differed other similar statements made by Vladimir Putin first and foremost in its composition. In 2015, the president began his speech with the world’s terrorism problem, Russia’s campaign in Syria, and the country’s relations with its principal foe at the time – Turkey. This time, however, Putin dedicated only a few sentences to Syria and terrorism at the very end of his speech.

This time, the president’s main focus was on social issues such as education, medicine, and the need to involve NGOs in achieving certain goals in the social sphere.

Half an hour of Putin’s speech may well be summed up in one thesis: “The purpose of our policy is to save people.” (this is not a new idea for the president).

Several times, Putin repeated the words “unity” for Russians. According to the president, Russia’s citizens are united around patriotic values. They are not a false association, but a “natural consolidation of citizens.” The president also reminded the assembly that today is the 15th birthday of pro-Kremlin political party United Russia.

In his speech, Putin did address one important piece of news: he announced the beginning of a new tax reform and specified its approximate timeframe. Previously, the tax reform was discussed as a hypothetically developed, but it is now clear that it will take place. Putin even specified the timeframe, stating that 2017 will be a year of discussion and negotiation and 2018 will be the year for the ratifying all necessary legislation, with the start date of the new tax system being January 1, 2019.

Putin did not specify precise what the new tax system would look like, though it will most likely include a progressive tax scale. These terms allow Putin to fulfill his promise not to raise taxes until 2018 - the year of the presidential election.

Putin asked the country’s Investigative Committee and the prosecutor’s office not to make a show of arresting high-ranking officials. At the same time, he barely mentioned anything about those who have been arrested, having issued nothing but the standard reminder that such issues are decided by the courts and that the majority of civil servants are “honest, decent people who work for the good of the country.”

The message was almost none of the regular anti-Western and anti-Ukrainian rhetoric. Putin hardly touched any global issues with the exception of a few sentences on terrorists and the situation in Syria. The president did not say anything about Brexit, nor did he comment on the United States presidential election or the situation in Ukraine. 

He did, however, remind the Assembly of the West’s information war against Russia.