Russian President Vladimir Putin has urged the country to pool together state resources and the energy of Russian democratic society. Opening the Civil Forum in the Kremlin on Wednesday, the president observed that the country "desperately needs intellectual mobilization" and cooperation. According to him, cooperation between authority and civil society is absolutely necessary and may turn out very productive. "We should not miss this historical chance, otherwise we may end up in the backyard of civilization once again," remarked Putin before pointing out that the forum had gathered representatives of different public organisations, including those that "strongly oppose authority." "This can do a lot of good under democratic conditions," he said. In the president's opinion, Russian civil society is still taking shape, but the same goes for other democratic countries as well. "It is an indispensable and permanent process accompanying democracy," said Putin. "Here in Russia, it has barely begun." According to the Russian leader, Russian authority faces one top priority task, "to create the best environment for its [civil society] development." "Authority today badly needs an inflow of competent people from the nongovernmental sector, people with a modern way of thinking," emphasized Putin, adding that the state needed effective models of cooperation between state and civil institutes. In the past years, civil society often helped solve tasks related to the social sphere, economy, charity, information and education, said the president. "The Russian Internet is a vivid example," he noted. "It has evolved into what it is now mostly thanks to nongovernmental and non-commercial structures." Its very growth gave birth to an entirely new "system of public expertise" and accounted for better quality and reliability of information, including that "related to the work of bodies of power." "I know there's an idea of organising an all-Russian personnel bank with a database accessible to the state, business circles and civil society institutes," said Putin, adding that the idea deserved "serious attention." "Your assistance is certainly important for the judicial reform as well," went on the president, addressing the assembly. In his opinion, the reform "is a tough one and cannot be tackled by the government alone. The nation should have a deciding vote in this. In fact! The same goes for humanization of the penitentiary system." "Modern-day conditions in penitentiaries are terrible, and there is also a lot of problems that were piling up over decades and need to be solved immediately. We shall try to have civil institutes participate in the effort to solve these and many other urgent problems," concluded Putin.
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