Vladimir Putin came nearly four hours late with his long-awaited speech before State Duma deputies and federal ministers in Yalta, Crimea. It was said that the live broadcast of the speech was canceled about 30 minutes before his arrival for unspecified reasons.
In the beginning of the speech, Putin thanked deputies for the Crimean package of laws and said: "We deserve to meet in the Crimea." He stressed out that "it is important to take into account the specifics of the Crimea." "The deputies have not come to the Crimea to bask in the sun, but to listen to the problems of the Crimean residents," assured the head of state. Speaking of the causes of the crisis, which led the Crimean residents to the wish to ask for accession to Russia, Putin said that the Ukrainian authorities "were taking a lot from the Crimea, giving little back." At the same time, Russia has already done a lot for the Crimeans, Putin said. In particular, pensions in the Crimea have been raised twice, he said.
In the future, the Russian authorities plan to strengthen the integration of the peninsula in the Russian Federation. Among the measures to promote equal rights of peoples in the Crimea, the President proposed to equalize the status of three languages - Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean-Tatar - that are widely used by those living on the peninsula. Recalling the need to rehabilitate all indigenous peoples of the Crimea, Putin said that "the Crimea could become a measure of reconciliation." He also supported the creation of the presidential international children's center on the basis of pioneer camp Artek, which was the most famous youth holiday spot in the USSR. "I support the proposal from Gennady Zyuganov to create the Presidential International Children's Center on the basis of the legendary Artek," Putin said, Interfax reports.
Putin then proceeded to the situation in Ukraine. According to him, "Ukraine has plunged into bloody chaos and killings." Speaking of the much-discussed topic of the ban on the import of products from the countries that imposed sanctions on Russia in connection with the Ukrainian crisis, Putin said that the measure taken by Moscow was a move "to support domestic producers." The statement was greeted with applause. Putin stressed that "we need to improve the country without breaking up ties with the outside world, but we should not forget about our own interests."
After the ten-minute speech, Vladimir Putin thanked the deputies for their fruitful work and then sat down, ready to answer questions from the audience.
State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin delivered his speech after Putin. He began his speech by thanking the President for the return of the Crimea, and then moved on to assessing the current state of affairs in Ukraine. He concluded his speech by saying that "the legal system of Ukraine is degrading, but this is an internal problem of the neighboring country.
Putin arrived in the Crimea on Wednesday and has already held the meeting of the Russian Security Council in Sevastopol, which discussed issues of external security of the peninsula, which Ukraine continues to consider its illegally occupied territory.
Noteworthy, announcing the topics of the "Yalta speech," Putin's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said that Putin was going to address the political leadership of the country with a long speech. According to Peskov, Putin intended to speak about regional elections in September, as well as issues of foreign politics. It was also reported that Putin was going to announce Russia's withdrawal from the jurisdiction of international courts.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Deputy Prime Ministers Dmitry Kozak and Olga Golodets, Minister for Crimean Affairs Vitaly Savelyev and the head of the Ministry for Labor Maxim Topilin were present at the meeting.
The parliamentary meeting in Yalta takes place amid sharp aggravation of relationships between Russia and the West. On August 13th, chairman of the Committee for International Affairs of the State Duma, Alexei Pushkov, said that there was a "thin line" that separated Russia and Ukraine from war. Pushkov is currently in the Crimea as well.
The press has been expecting "epic" statements from Putin on the subject of the Ukrainian crisis for long already. It was expected that Putin would say something important at the meeting of the Russian Security Council in the middle of July, although it did not happen - the head of state only said that there was no direct military threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Russia. He also promised that Russia would show influence on the Ukrainian militia for the complete investigation into the crash of the Malaysian Boeing 777 in the Donetsk region.
Putin's current two-day visit to the Crimea is his second after the peninsula became a part of the Russian territory again.