[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 May, 2004, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
In quotes: Putin vows defence of democracy
Ministry of Interior troops in action in Chechnya
Putin's war on terror in Chechnya to continue

Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to defend democratic values while strengthening Russia's statehood in a keynote speech broadcast live on Russia TV.

He set out a goal of doubling the size of the Russian economy within 10 years, and pledged to equip the armed forces with the most up-to-date weaponry.

In his annual state-of-the-nation speech to both houses of parliament, he said that in the fight against terrorism, there was no excuse for the abuse of human rights.

The following are excerpts from President Putin's speech:

Our aims are absolutely clear: They are a high living standard in the country and a secure, free and comfortable life. They are a mature democracy and a developed civic society. They are to strengthen Russia's positions in the world. And the main thing is, I repeat, a significant increase in the well-being of our citizens...

The achievements of the past few years give us the foundation to start, at long last, the process of tackling problems which it is possible to surmount. However, they can be surmounted only if we have a certain economic potential, political stability and an active civic society. Far from everyone in the world wants to be dealing with an independent, strong and self-confident Russia...

The strengthening of our statehood is, at times, deliberately interpreted as authoritarianism. In this connection I would like to state that there will be no revision of the fundamental principles of our policy. Fidelity to democratic values is dictated by the will of our people and by the strategic interests of the Russian Federation itself...

Economic progress

Only economic growth can provide a truly reliable basis for the long-term solution of social problems, including the struggle against poverty. We are quite capable of doubling our economic potential in 10 years, as we said last year. We are capable of doing this even if we only maintain the average annual rates of growth at the level of the first quarter of this year.

Furthermore, if we maintain these rates, we could double per capita GDP not in 10 years, but by 2010. Members of the government are also applauding. That means they agree with this...

Relations with expanded EU

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the government as a whole must look for more efficient ways to increase Russian exports and reliably protect Russian companies' interests abroad. Such an approach is of particular importance now that Russia and the European Union are direct neighbours. The expansion of the European Union must not only bring us closer geographically, but also economically and spiritually.

I am convinced that this is a guarantee of success not only for Russian, but also for European business as a whole. This presupposes new markets and new investments and, all in all, new opportunities for the future of greater Europe...

Modernising the armed forces

The modernisation of the army is also undoubtedly one of our national priorities. We need battleworthy, technically equipped and modern armed forces for the secure defence of the state...

We need to make safe our country from any kind of military or political pressure, and from any potential outside aggression. In this respect, the modernisation of our armed forces remains a most important task. This includes the equipping of strategic and nuclear forces with the most up-to-date strategic weapon systems. We have everything required for this...

Terror and Chechnya

In spite of provocations, including the recent political murder of the leader of the Chechen Republic... our line in the struggle against terror remains unchanged and consistent. Nobody and nothing will stop Russia on the road to strengthening democracy and ensuring human rights and freedoms.

We will continue to work on the development of internationally recognised legal instruments and collective mechanisms for the neutralisation of global threats. I regard the task of strengthening the anti-terrorist coalition as one of the most important ones...

I would like to point out that no references to the need to fight terror can be an argument for restricting human rights...

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

Country profile: Russia
25 May 04  |  Country profiles
Ceremony starts Putin's new term
07 May 04  |  Europe
Putin predicts surging economy
26 May 04  |  Europe
Putin U-turn could rescue Kyoto
21 May 04  |  Europe
Chechnya sets date for election
21 May 04  |  Europe

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific